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Welcome Back, Kotter, Err, Lotus

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On: Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 11:48AM | By: John Welch

Welcome Back, Kotter, Err, Lotus

The F1 title fight is coming down to the wire for 2009. At the Japanese Grand Prix, Brawn GP had the opportunity to clinch the manufacturer's title, and though they were not successful will have the chance again in Brazil. Brawn GP is the phoenix rising from the ashes of the Honda F1 team. After winning six of the first seven races, Brawn is finally seeing serious competition from more established teams like Red Bull and Mclaren, but most likely the title fight will go to Brawn.

Next season there will be several new teams entering F1, emboldened by Brawn GP's unlikely success. Manor Racing, Campos Racing, our home-nation favorite, USF1/GPE, and finally the return of Lotus, albeit under Malaysian ownership and based in Sepang. Unlike Brawn, these teams are all starting from scratch, using a brand new Cosworth engine (unfortunately, this is the same powerplant used by Williams in 2006; it should be competitive if the FIA allows minor updates; that's a BIG 'if') and placing that engine in freshly designed chassis.

How far along are these teams? A brief overview of each organization to follow . ..

Manor Racing: You will notice a running theme with some of these new teams. In order to speed up development time, several new teams are utilizing relationships with existing chassis manufacturers. In the case of Manor Racing, the team will be working with Wirth Engineering. Nick Wirth, former Benneton engineer and owner of Wirth Engineering, will be taking the reins in all facets of Manor Racing development. Wirth is best known recently for creating the chassis and body work for the Acura ARX-02a sports prototype. Wirth Engineering has a well-funded research facility, wind tunnels and an auto-clave. Nick Wirth brings nearly thirty years of design expertise to the team and will probably produce a pretty interesting design.

John Booth, team principal, had this to say after Manor officially announced their acceptance into F1, "Today is a proud moment in the history of Manor. Having competed successfully in other categories, we can now look forward to the challenges and opportunities presented in motor racing's premier series. Nick Wirth will bring the technical experience and flair that is required to be a serious contender in Formula 1."

Booth established Manor in 1990; since then the team have won 171 races and 19 championship titles in categories such as Formula Renault and Formula 3 Euroseries.

Campos Racing: The first team to lodge their entry in the 2010 F1 championship (Campos posted their entry five minutes after the midnight, May 21st opening), Campos have successfully raced Spanish Formula 3 as well as the GP 2 championship. Owned by former race driver Adrian Campos, this team has discovered several rising stars. Fernando Alonso got his start at Campos, as well as sports car driver Marc Gene. Campos Racing has a technical partnership with Italian outfit Dallara, who builds the current IRL car, as well as a Grand Am chassis, the GP2 car and several others. Campos Racing will be known as Campos Meta 1 when they reach the grid next year. Campos is widely regarded to have the most complete chassis among the new teams, Dallara is currently working on fitting the Cosworth engine and completing suspension design.

USGPE: Ahh, the little American in a sea of massive Europeans. Owned by former Haas CNC director Ken Anderson, the USGPE team looks to be the most self-sufficient new team to enter Formula 1. Though they have technical partners, (Chad Hurley and Youtube for one,) the USF1 . .err USGPE team has their own facility for chassis manufacture, as well as their own wind tunnel, auto clave for carbon parts, and a 7-post shaker rig for suspension tests. Peter Windsor, former Ferrari engineer and former team principal at Williams, will act as the team principal for USGPE, concluding his duties as Speedtv's pit reporter. Though the outside media likes to speculate that USGPE might not be ready for F1, the team is ahead of schedule and plans to have a car on track and testing by the end of November. It is difficult to find any pictures of any of these team's cars, but a quick tour of USGPE's Conchord North Carolina factory proves that USGPE is well on its way to fielding a proper F1 car. Notice the CAD designs on various computer screens, our best look yet at the first US contender since Dan Gurney's Eagle of the late sixties. (Not the last American F1 team, but by far the most successful). AutoShopper blog will be covering every tiny little detail regarding USGPE's progress over the winter.

Team Lotus: The Lotus name carries serious cachet within the Formula One paddock. The team and its founder, Colin Chapman, have a storied history in F1. A consistent competitor until the mid-nineties, Lotus has secured several drivers and manufacturer championships. This is not that Lotus team however, as the new iteration is owned by Malaysian auto company Proton. The team was approved well after the original signup period, a consequence of BMW abandoning its position on the grid. Lotus has enjoyed a history of winning in F1, but there is little detailed information available about the new team. It is owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors, and will be based at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. Beyond that, not much is known about Team Lotus F1 . . .

The images below show examples of each teams former racing cars and logos.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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