Lotus unveils green and yellow speed machine
Michael BaileyIt was last in Formula One 16 years ago - now the legendary Norfolk marque is back.In a hail of flashbulbs and in the presence of Formula One luminaries, Lotus unveiled its 2010 car amid anticipation and excitement at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London.Michael Bailey
It was last in Formula One 16 years ago - now the legendary Norfolk marque is back.
In a hail of flashbulbs and in the presence of Formula One luminaries, Lotus unveiled its 2010 car amid anticipation and excitement at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London.
The sense of history being made was also felt by the men behind the constructor's reincarnation.
The Lotus T127 - a chassis number that carries on from Team Lotus' chargers of the past - will take on this season's famous circuits resplendent in racing green, glistening with yellow trim and bursting with pride from the team's Norwich-born technical director, Mike Gascoyne.
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'I think it needed to be a green and yellow car; if it didn't have that and the chassis designation number, then it wasn't a real Lotus. And I think it was very important that it was.'
The launch was not a lavish one - a nod to Formula One's new austere era - but everyone could feel the buzz, including the great and the good of Lotus's past.
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The name's latest incarnation is determined to live up to its past glories - to do them justice - so it was fitting the invited audience could take in some of the constructors' iconic and pace-setting cars of yesteryear; cars driven by the likes of Ayrton Senna, Mario Andretti and Jim Clark.
And the legends were in attendance, too - former world champions Sir Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell, as well as Frank Williams, happy to give their approval to the return of a racing icon.
But this was also a moment for every employee at the team's Hingham factory - all 130 of them, who have somehow managed to construct a Formula One car ready to be launched exactly five months to the day team principal Tony Fernandes received confirmation Lotus had a place on the 2010 Formula One grid.
Those engineers and the team's backers in Malaysia stood glued to the stage as music kicked in, the lights went down and the sleek Lotus chassis was officially unveiled for the first time.
This may be a cost-cut Formula One but the price tag is still high - Fernandes' team will chalk up costs of �55m this season.
Of course, for all the excitement of those involved, some will still be eager to point out the 2010, Malaysian-backed, Lotus F1 Racing bears little resemblance to the team Colin Chapman took to seven constructors' titles, six drivers' championships and 79 grands prix wins.
The famous name owes everything it has to Chapman - some burden for 'a very proud' Gascoyne and Fernandes to take on.
But Chapman's son, Clive - who welcomed the new car in London alongside his mother, Hazel - acknowledged to Fernandes the evening felt just like the very first launch of a Lotus car.
He added: 'I've always said if the Lotus name comes back into Formula One, it needs to be in association with Group Lotus, and the fact they've been instrumental in the use of the name and everything else, the best thing we can do is cheer them on.
'I'll be cheering them on, I know everyone in the factory is going to be doing so, and everyone in Norfolk will be, too - and I'm sure a lot more besides. From the Chapman family to the Lotus company to Lotus, that wave rippling out.
'A lot of people have said, 'oh, it's not really a Lotus', but at the end of the day that doesn't really make any difference. It's called a Lotus and let's hope they do all right.'