Team Lotus has unveiled its T128 2011 Formula 1 car, a significantly more aggressive design than its 2010 contender, and a machine the squad hopes will propel it firmly into the midfield and points contention.
The T128 will not appear in public until Wednesday, when it joins the second day of the Valencia test. But Lotus chose to reveal images of the car in a special edition of its Team Lotus Notes online magazine.
Lotus had always admitted that last year's T127 was a deliberately conservative machine built simply to get the team onto the grid in a very limited time scale, rather than with outright performance in mind. It halted development on the 2010 car early in the season to focus on the 2011 design, which is more in line with modern F1 practice, and features Renault V8 power and transmission systems from Red Bull.
The images released so far suggest the car features a more intricate front wing design, sharply sculpted sidepods, as well as a more conventional higher nose, and an airbox and roll hoop reminiscent of the 2010 Mercedes, suggesting Lotus has found a way around the rules that appeared to have outlawed such "blade" designs.
The team's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne is confident that Lotus has achieved everything it wanted to with the T128.
"I think that basically this car looks like a front-running car in every area," he said. "We said very clearly that we want to start challenging the established teams and I think that's very achievable."
The car launch comes with the Lotus naming rights dispute still very much alive, and Tony Fernandes' squad had chosen to continue with the traditional Lotus type numbering system by choosing T128 for its car, rather than the TL11 title that was initially announced.
Fernandes said it was a relief to be able to focus on the new car after a winter of legal disputes with Renault's new title sponsor Group Lotus.
"There has been so much focus off-track it's a thrill to be able to get back to talking about racing," Fernandes admitted. "The launch of the T128 is a big step forward for Team Lotus and I want to thank the whole team for the amount of hard work that has already gone into T128, and I want to thank Renault and Red Bull Technology for their tremendous support in helping us make this step forward and for being such great team partners."