Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lotus Scaling Back: A Win/Win For All Parties?

With the bombshell dropping yesterday in regards to Lotus parting ways with Bryan Herta Autosport and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, my first thought was simply this:

Good for them. All of them.

Lotus, even at five cars, has been stretched too thin this year. Behind on development, the smaller engine program was simply being outpunched by Chevy and Honda at every turn. As great as the overall racing has been this year, it’s no fun watching your favorite drivers struggle.

Experienced talented drivers such as Oriol Servia and Alex Tagliani were racing their hearts out, but simply didn’t have enough in the engine compartment to make it happen. The frustration has been palpable, especially in the last few weeks, when it became readily apparent the struggles weren't isolated to just a single race or team.

With only 3 cars (potentially 4 for Indy), the engine supply issue for Lotus now becomes much less pronounced. Yes, they’re still behind the power curve, but it means Lotus HVM and Lotus Dragon shouldn’t have to worry about an engine and spare showing up for their race. Sure, Simona de Silvestro, Kat Legge, and S├Ębastien Bourdais won’t be in top equipment, but being able to concentrate across two teams should be a much easier proposition for the Lotus crew.

A DRR livery change could be coming swiftly.
(Courtesy TrackSideOnline.com. Used with permission).
It remains to be seen if Lotus can work through development this year and come back for 2013, but right now, it’s tough not to feel a bit of relief at this situation. It’s as if a bit of the pressure has escaped. The defending Indy 500 team can sign with Honda, and hopes are Chevy will be powering the ride of Servia, one of the most respected veteran drivers in the Series. Of course, there's the caution that nothing's been agreed to yet as far as a new engine manufacturer for these two teams go, but it seems very likely something can be worked out.

It doesn’t stop there. Within the hour of the BHA/DRR announcement, Michael Shank Racing announced they’ll be entering Jay Howard for the Indy 500 as well this year. Does this mean another one-off Lotus for Indy? It certainly seems that way right now, which is still far less of an obligation than a full-season deal.

The Lotus engine issue could have blown sky-high. Instead, we're currently looking at a more graduated, calmer resolution to matters. That's good for everyone involved. The engine drama will bear watching, but for now, a sort of reason has prevailed. Let's hope it endures.

6 comments:

  1. IndyCar still needs to qualify if this counts as another engine change towards the teams' limit of six per season, or if the counter resets. If this counts towards the six, then Tags is really screwed as this will be engine four for him.

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  2. I didn't even think of that. I would hope that the special circumstances of the situation would be realized, and it doesn't count towards that.

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  3. I wonder who makes the Lotus F1 engine because they looked solid in Bahrain.

    Regarding engine change, I think it should count because this is a decision the team is making.

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  4. This shows that Lotus was more than 1 month behind. We kept hearing that but Chevy and Honda were much further along than Lotus. It will be interesting to see if Randy forces teams to go to Lotus next year to equalize how many teams are with each manufacturer.

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  5. Time will tell. First, Lotus needs to make a better engine. More copies of the same bad unit isn't going to help. Real question is, do they use this as a chance to spend even less money on Indycar now? Sure hope not for the sake of the teams.

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