So Lotus have confirmed they won’t be participating in the opening pre-season test. Cue everyone jumping on the bandwagon that one of F1′s most famous names could die, again.
Unsurprisingly I’d like to think I’m taking a more balanced approach to this news, of course Lotus are well-known for their financial woes and they are probably a little behind than most on the development of the E22, but that doesn’t mean the team is about to die.
Remember this was a team caught up in a battle with Ferrari and Mercedes for second in the Constructor’s Championship just six weeks ago, Lotus were obviously still having to put some level of development into the E21 right up to Brazil in a bid to win that fight.
Naturally that put them behind with development for 2014 because unlike the few hundred million Mercedes and Ferrari can throw at their cars, Lotus was far from being in a position to run two design teams, one on 2013 and one on 2014.
Indeed the decision to wait until the warmer climate of Bahrain to begin on-track testing may have been the plan from the start – though of course the extra running in Jerez would have been more desirable – in the press release that revealed the news we would not see the next black and gold creation until Bahrain, Lotus hinted at the better weather the Middle East will offer.
“We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development programme,” Technical Director Nick Chester said in a statement.
“We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions,” he added.
While that may sound like making excuses it is a very interesting area for discussion, in Jerez temperatures will be nowhere near those expected at the majority of races so in many ways the only thing teams will learn in Spain is about reliability and maybe a little about the tyres.
They are important of course but with cooling said to be the biggest issue the cool temperatures in Europe won’t give teams a full picture.
I’m also not in the same group of people who expects mass engine problems, the engine suppliers will have tested these V6 units to destruction on the bench so I actually expect reliability to be pretty good.
Anyway you may have noticed I’ve gone slightly off topic given the title of this particular article, that’s because even though I’ve defended Lotus’ decision to skip Jerez and not blamed it purely on money, they are the team most talked about nowadays when it comes to the financial strains of F1.
This also comes at a time when the governing body the FIA are looking to fill the 12th spot that was vacated by HRT after 2012.
There’s a lot any potential future team owner or investor can learn from those who joined the grid in 2010, while HRT are gone, Virgin, which became Marussia, and Team Lotus, which became Caterham, find themselves no further forward than they were four years ago and are also barely keeping their heads above water financially.
Of course if the Sheik’s of the Middle East or the big businessmen of America or Asia have a few hundred million they wish to invest then that’s OK but I’m sure F1 fans don’t want a new 12th team to be another HRT laughing-stock.
Now straight away you may have noticed I have hinted that a third Red Bull team wouldn't be a bad idea and I will say this, if Mr Mateschitz has money and he wishes to spend it I would much rather a third Red Bull team than another HRT, we have the English (Red Bull), the Italian (Toro Rosso) so why not the French or even the German?
This also applies to all the major teams should they have the money, why not have two more Ferrari’s or two more Mercedes.
These teams even have the drivers to fill those seats, Red Bull could promote Antonio Felix da Costa and Carlos Sainz, Ferrari could bring through Jules Bianchi and Rafaele Marciello while Mercedes have Sam Bird.
Of course to most the thought of certainly another Red Bull team would horrify, the thought of two more Ferrari’s and Mercedes’, well, not so bad, but one thing that is for sure is giving the top teams two more cars would improve competition at the front and prevent the three-tier F1 we have had in the past few years from getting any worse.
So as current teams fight for survival and another new team potentially emerges, ask yourself, would you rather Taureau Rouge (Red Bull in French) or HRT MkII?
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