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Lotus: Switch to Renault power set to pay off 24 Jan 2011

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus T127. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 19 November 2010. (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus and Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus at the Lotus team photograph.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 (L to R): Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus with Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus T127.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 13 November 2010

With KERS, Pirelli tyres and adjustable rear wings just some of the changes being introduced in 2011, the grid’s 12 teams have had a very busy off-season. For Lotus, who have also made the switch to Renault power this year, it’s been an even busier winter break, but the team hope the hard work will help them enter the mid-field fray this year.

Like fellow newcomers HRT and Virgin, Lotus used Cosworth power during their 2010 debut season. Although they eventually finished 10th in the standings, ahead of their fellow debutants, it was decided Renault engines would provide a better platform for future growth, especially as it meant Red Bull Technology could then supply the team with gearboxes and hydraulic systems.

“This winter's been quite difficult as we're changing engine manufacturer to Renault and have a new relationship with Red Bull Technology for the gearbox and hydraulics,” team manager Graham Watson told the team’s official website. “That change has created some complications for the new car development over the winter, but it's all for the good.”

If the changes do pay off, the team’s aim is to make a move into the midfield. Whilst they established themselves as the best of the 2010 newcomers, they failed to score any points, finish higher than 12th (Heikki Kovalainen in Japan) or qualify higher than 13th (Kovalainen in Belgium).

“I hope that the biggest difference you will see is that we're further up the grid!" said Watson. "And that we're there on merit. 2010 was a brilliant year, but that's all history now, and it's about 2011 and people seeing a clear performance improvement on all areas.”

One result of the changes at Lotus is that work which they didn’t carry out in their own factory in the hectic scramble to make the 2010 grid has now been brought under internal control. Whilst Watson admits it’s been a challenge for all concerned, he hopes the T127’s successor will be a much stronger car for drivers Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli as a result.

“It's different this time around as we're doing so much more in-house,” he explained. “Last year was difficult, but this year is too, because we're doing everything internally - designing and producing the car - and of course it takes time for people to gel. It can take years for a Formula One team to gel properly, and I think we're making good steps forward in doing that, and we're becoming a tight unit. The end product will be a better product for sure.”

Kovalainen and Trulli are expected to visit the Lotus factory on Monday to take a peak at the team’s new car, which is set to make its on-track debut on February 1 during the Valencia test.

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