The wraps have come off the Lotus E23 Hybrid racer that will compete in the 2015 Formula One Championship. This is a pivotal year for a team that has been powered exclusively by Renault engines for the past 22 years.
Renault fell flat on it face last year at the beginning of the new V-6 turbo hybrid era. It got its sums wrong in the development process and brought an unreliable, underpowered lump to the party that was more than 100 horsepower down on the mighty, all conquering Mercedes power unit.
During the off season, Lotus said “Enough!” and placed a call to Mercedes. The two struck a deal to put a Mercedes power unit into the Lotus this year. The team is understandably happy to be rid of the accursed Renault engine and expects 2015 to be a much better year.
Of the 9 teams remaining in Formula One this year (2 dropped out after last season), 4 will have Mercedes power this season – Mercedes, Williams, Force India and now Renault. McLaren has dropped Mercedes power and moved to a new partnership with Honda. Sauber has Ferrari power. Only Red Bull and its sister team, Toro Rosso, will continue to soldier on with underperforming Renault power units.
Gone from this year’s Lotus is the goofy “double tusk” nose. Instead, it will have a more conventional (and better looking) nose as dictated by updated Formula One technical guidelines. How a car moves through the air and creates downforce all starts with the shape of the nose, so a change there means changes to every other part of the car.
Lotus will keep its driver lineup from last year intact, with both Roman Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado handling driving duties in 2015. For a team that finished 8th in the overall championship in 2014 — its worst performance since 1983 — there is no where to go but up. The first race will be in Melbourne, Australia on March 15.