Lotus shift focus to 2011 car

On the Monaco Review podcast we were just discussing the thought of the new teams stopping 2010 development and focusing on 2011. We did chat about how difficult it would be to use sponsors money for 2011 instead of maximising their investments in 2010. A long-term partner may easily understand that notion as the teams are struggling in the back of the grid anyway but then continuing to fight is a worthy element to the brand equity a team delivers for a sponsor. Not a catalyst, mind you, but a desirable character nonetheless.

If any of the new teams were to start focusing on the 2011 challenger, it makes the most sense that it may be the Malaysian-backed Lotus Racing. That is, apparently, exactly what they have decided to do. Technical boss Mike Gascoyne explains:

“We still have stuff coming through and there will probably be a package for Silverstone, but now we are very much concentrating on 2011,” Gascoyne told AUTOSPORT. “The 2011 model is going in the wind tunnel soon.

“This year we were always going to play catch up. Next year, with the big rule changes, it levels the playing field and we need to put our resources into that. So we want to keep pushing, but we want to look at next year as well.”

On many levels this makes perfectly good sense. Still, the issue of reasonable progress from the commercial aspect still remains and Gascoyne is all too aware of that element:

“We want to get 10th [in the Constructors’ Championship] and realistically, even if we made the car better, would we get ninth or eighth? Probably not.

“Therefore is it worth putting resources into that, or switching them to next year? There is also the commercial aspect you want to be seen moving forward this year, but we want to take some people by surprise next year.”

He read our mind–he’s amazing like that. As we contemplated the lack of progress in 2010 and how that would impact a sponsor, it could be argued that the biggest bang for their investment is to see a better developed 2011 challenger that has a much better chance at racing the midfield in earnest. If you were the marketing arm of a corporation investing in say, Virgin, Lotus or HRT would you be happy with your investment being used to focus on 2011? Would you understand, like F1 teams do, that their investment in 2010 car development won’t gain you much as far as team championship position? Would you understand that your money is being used to hold station and toil at the back for the remainder of the year?

This may or may not be a difficult question for some readers but as a businessman, I would like to see a breakdown of how effective my 2010 investment can be. I would like to know that if my dollars are being used to maintain mediocrity, what other ways could we use those sponsor dollars to maximize the brand message on a recalcitrant car in 2010? I would understand the need to focus on 2011 but can Lotus Racing assure me that they will do any better than the 9th or 8th next year?

Lotus Racing is the most likely to stop development and focus on 2011 as they have government backing and a larger budget than HRT and perhaps the Malaysian government is keen to see a better car and better future developing on the drawing board sooner rather than later. They take their investment seriously and one can understand their desire to start the 2011 season on much better footing that 2010.

As for the remainder of 2010? I suspect what you are seeing now is what you will get come the final race of the season. All of you Lotus Racing fans are most likely excited about the 2011 prospects but teh balance of 2010 will assuredly be pedestrian for you. Might I suggest cheering for Sauber, Renault or Mercedes GP in the mean time?

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