F1 2010: Lotus's Secret Return

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIDecember 10, 2009

IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 25:  Gerhard Berger drives Ayrton Senna's first Lotus car prior to the San Marino F1 Grand Prix on April 25, 2004, at the San Marino circuit in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In mid-November the returning Lotus team announced that their first driver decision had already been made, yet they declined to reveal who had claimed the lucrative drive.

For a team with such an illustrious history to return, it is obviously required that they fire themselves back into contention with a driver capable of catapulting them back to the forefront of the sport.

Their serious prospects of performance and competition are highlighted by the support given to them by the Malaysian government, with expectations of the driver line up surely warranted to match.

So far there are three rumoured racers being considered as the one given the 2010 drive.


The Trulli Trifle?

Most likely of the rumoured stars is Jarno Trulli. This is not surprising as after years of solid performances at Toyota and Renault Trulli has distinguished himself as a hotly tipped professional and superb qualifying specialist. Even his race pace in the last couple of seasons has vastly improved as the Trulli train appears to have finally bitten the dust.

The good almost certainly outweighs the bad.

Sensible thinkers will look to the most experienced driver to spearhead a new team, with David Coulthard’s inception at Red Bull being one of the most recent examples of a successful introduction.

Now Lotus may not be a new team, but the sport itself has had various face lifts since their last inclusion in the sport and so a current driver, especially one of Jarno’s status would be fruitful in the rewards that could be received in the process.


Jacques From the Dead?

A second choice that has emerged for Lotus is former world champion Jacques Villenueve. This rumour could be seen in part due to almost fulfilled return of Michael Schumacher last season, but mostly it is due to Mike Gasgoyne’s confirmation that he has partaken in discussions with the Canadian driver.  

Jacques career did stall somewhat with his lacklustre years at B.A.R that seemingly brought a tragic end to a surprisingly short career in Formula 1.

He saw little in the way of success in his finale but with only Lewis Hamilton’s introduction to Formula 1 bettering his own in a 1997 Williams, Lotus may benefit from a driver who has proven that he can and could take the Lotus 2010 car straight to the front.


The Destined Rookie

Of course for any team there will always be a driver who provides a lucrative appeal to the team. Malaysian run Lotus F1 could be highlighted by GP2 Malaysian born driver Fairuz Fauzy. A Malaysian driver in a Malaysian team would make perfect sense, as it is a sure fire way of increasing the support and sponsorship required to elevate performance and exposure for a ‘new team’.

Such a move would be similar to German Nico Rosberg landing a drive at the recently rebranded Brawn GP team, Mercedes Grand Prix, who are obviously owned by a German manufacturer.

Mike Gascoyne has already confirmed that Fauzy will be given a test driver role in 2010, adding that a permanent drive is unlikely.

However anything other than a definite rejection to this rumour will not deter those who expect the rookie to take the drive for a team run by his country’s government.


Whichever driver Lotus has decided to lead their charge back to the sport (even if it is neither of the three mentioned) they will no doubt allow themselves a great chance of a successful re-entry. They are a team so celebrated in their past glories that back of the field action is most likely the first obstacle to overcome.

Their decision may have already been made for the first driver, but a second driver is also a consideration.

It is left for them to ponder whether they would be willing to risk it all on a rookie, gift a fallen hero a chance, or just choose the sensible option and place a current driver at the wheel. First seasons after all can always be a maker or a breaker for a team.

You do get the feeling that Lotus just may provide performance reminiscent of their past glories providing their build up to the campaign is constructed out of concise and firm judgements.