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F1 Advent Calendar 2010 (Day 24) - The real fight // A return to look at the rear of the grid as the season winds down

Published by Christine

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Hello! This is Day 24 of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. We have just one more episode to go after this, and whilst we are featuring the last race of the year, I'm skipping ahead a little bit to talk about a different championship. This is Day 24 - The real fight.

We will talk about Abu Dhabi and who won the driver's title in the next episode, I promise. However, the driver's and constructor's championships were not the only two battles we were watching. As well as seeing who was the fastest at the top, we also wanted to see who was the fastest at the bottom. The battle of the new teams.

We've talked of Virgin's small fuel tank, and HRT's revolving door, but we have not mentioned too much about Lotus. Could that be the reason then, that they won the new team's championship, by dint of keeping their heads down and just getting on with things? It became clear early on in the season that they had a slightly faster car than the other two, and once they began to get reliability under control, they started picking up more positions. Once or twice throughout the year, Mike Gascoyne and Tony Fernandes were particularly vocal about their dislike of the hydraulics system they had, as we watched them retire time after time with those mechanical failures.

However, despite all three teams scoring zero points in 2010, it was Lotus who managed to finish the year 10th, thanks to Heikki Kovalainen's 12th place finish in Japan. It's a big boost for the team as the higher up the order you are, the more money you get from Bernie Ecclestone's TV revenues. It also means that Tony Fernandes won the air stewardess battle with Richard Branson.

At the beginning of the year, the challenge was issued. As both Tony and Richard own airlines, whoever finished below the other team at the end of 2010 would have to board a flight dressed as an air stewardess. I can honestly say I didn't think this would actually happen, but apparently a flight is being organised for February with tickets available and money going to charity. I would probably pay money not to see Richard Branson in a dress, but it's all for a good cause.

2010 hasn't been all good news for Lotus though. They issued their intention to run the car under the name Team Lotus for 2011, and the recently released FIA entry list confirms that as their name. However, they face a challenge. I am not going to try and get into the Lotus Group versus Team Lotus debacle here, as it would be a mini-series in itself, but suffice it to say there are two teams who both want to use the Lotus name, and reap the historical rewards that it brings.

It's unclear who has legal rights to the name itself, and the matter has been and probably will be in headlines for a long time. For 2011, we have a Team Lotus running Renault engines, and a team called Renault with a title sponsor of Lotus. That's Team Lotus-Renault and Lotus-Renault GP to you. It's a messy way to end the year, but what we have learned from the new teams in 2010 is that once you build up a fanbase, it is far too easy to lose them with confusion. HRT did it by being unable to keep a stable driver lineup. Lotus could suffer the same fate. We shall see.

That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. The Lotus issue is a hot topic on Sidepodcast, so make sure you leave your comments on the site. And don't forget to join me tomorrow, for the final episode of this year.

All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2010