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The Lotus E20 breaks cover 05 Feb 2012

Kimi Raikkonen (R) and Romain Grosjean (L), Lotus E20 launch, Enstone, UK, February 5, 2012 Lotus E20 launch, Enstone, UK, February 5, 2012 Lotus E20 launch, Enstone, UK, February 5, 2012

Lotus have officially unveiled the new car with which returning 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and team mate Romain Grosjean will contest the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. The UK-based team hope the E20 - the 20th F1 chassis built at their Enstone factory - will allow them to improve on the fifth place they achieved as Renault last season.

“We are very proud to kick off our 2012 campaign under the name of Lotus F1 Team, continuing with the evocative black and gold livery which made such a well-received return to Grands Prix in 2011,” commented Chairman Gerard Lopez.

“Last year we saw flashes of strong potential from the R31 and the team, but ultimately we fell short of our goals. That is the nature this highly competitive sport and we are pushing forwards leaving no stone unturned in our quest to reinstate Lotus as the team to beat.”

Like the 2012 cars already launched by rivals, the E20 features changes prompted by revisions to the FIA technical regulations, including a lower nose and new exhaust positioning designed to eliminate exhaust-blown diffusers.

“Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and in other areas we have further optimised the best bits of the design philosophy we’ve adopted for several seasons,” explained Lotus technical director James Allison.

“As far as the exhausts are concerned, our forward exhausts would now be illegal under the new rules and didn’t live up to our expectations in any case. So that part of the car we say goodbye to and welcome in a complete re-design.

“The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities. The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. The rear wing system, we’ve continued to try to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability, whilst having a maximum DRS switching potential.”

Having won world titles in their previous iterations as Benetton and Renault with the likes of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, Lotus hope the combination of Raikkonen and the E20 will put them on course to recapture those glory days.

“If you look at the history of Enstone, there were world championships won in 1994-95 and 2005-6,” added Lopez. “This ten-year cycle obviously appeals and we are set on repeating this history. We want a step nearer our goal in 2012.

“If we finish in fifth place in the constructors’ championship we will be disappointed. If we finish fourth we can reflect over a good step forwards. If we finish in third position we will be very happy. We know the competition is intense, but that is why we compete.”

The E20 will be presented to international media and team partners at the Jerez circuit in Spain on Monday, before it takes to the track for the first time with Raikkonen at the wheel for filming purposes.

Team testing then gets underway at Jerez on Tuesday, with Raikkonen taking duties for the first two days before handing over to Grosjean for the final two days to conclude the session.

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