With the new name of Lotus F1 Team above the door, it was a significant overhaul for the 2012 season as the long-term aim of returning Enstone to the front of the pack took a significant step forward.
Perhaps the greatest change came in the form of an all-new driver line-up, consisting of 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen alongside GP2 Series Champion Romain Grosjean; both making a return to the sport after a two year absence.
Touted as a gamble by many within the paddock, this combination of youth and experience reaped immediate rewards; both drivers challenging at the sharp end of the grid from the very first race and clinching a double podium finish as early as the fourth round of the season.
Beneath them, the E20 – so named as it would be the 20th car produced by the Enstone factory – proved to be one of the best all-round packages of the season; hailed by journalists and Team Principals alike as the most consistent performer of the year.
As the first year of the Lotus F1 Team era came to a close, the team would achieve its pre-season target of P4 in the Constructors’ Championship whilst comeback king Räikkönen took P3 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Having retained its driver line-up for the 2013 season, the team is aiming for further improvements from its latest challenger - the E21 - with an exciting year in prospect. Below is a summary of the Lotus F1 Team era thus far in numbers:
- Debut – 2012 Australian Grand Prix
- Race Weekends – 39
- Points – 618
- Wins – 2
- Podiums – 24
- Pole Positions – 0
- Fastest Laps – 5
The Iceman Cometh
After a two year hiatus from the sport to try his hand at rallying, Kimi Räikkönen made an eagerly anticipated and much welcome comeback to Formula 1 in 2012 with Lotus F1 Team.
Renowned for his unique persona and attacking driving style, the Finnish superstar did not disappoint on his return to the cockpit; taking seven podium finishes in 2012 including a famous win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Retained by Lotus F1 Team for the 2013 season, the Iceman has been touted as a Championship contender having clinched P3 in last year’s Drivers’ Championship.
- Nationality – Finnish
- D.O.B. – 17th October 1979
- Debut – 2012 Australian Grand Prix
- Race Weekends – 37
- Best Championship Position – P3 (2012)
- Best Result – P1 (x2)
- Best Qualifying – P2 (2013 Chinese Grand Prix)
Having previously driven for the team as replacement for Nelson Piquet Jr. at Renault for the final seven races of the 2009 season, Romain Grosjean returned to the Enstone family to occupy the second Lotus F1 Team race seat in 2012. Despite a somewhat turbulent year, the young Frenchman demonstrated his undoubted natural talent behind the wheel by taking three podium finishes in his first full season of Formula 1 and is looking to build on that platform in 2013.
Back On Top
Touted as the ‘nearly men’ for much of the season, Lotus F1 Team finally broke its win duck under the Yas Marina spotlights as Kimi Räikkönen took a superb victory in an epic 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Starting from P4 on the grid, the Finn produced an immaculate start to take P2 into the first corner, maintaining position behind Lewis Hamilton in the early stages. When the McLaren retired with mechanical issues at just under half distance, Räikkönen would assume a lead which was not to be relinquished despite intense pressure from Fernando Alonso behind.
The result not only provided the Finn with his first visit to the top step under Lotus F1 Team colours, but also marked the first win for Enstone since 2008. Below are the key figures from the race:
- Venue – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
- Weather Conditions – Hot, Dry, Night Race
- Chassis – E20
- Engine – RS27-2012
- Drivers – Kimi Räikkönen (FIN), Romain Grosjean (FRA)
- Qualifying – P5 (Räikkönen), P10 (Grosjean)
- Result – P1 (Räikkönen), DNF (Grosjean)
- Fastest Lap – Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (1:43.964)
Round four of the World Championship saw Lotus F1 Team announce that it would be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season after a superb double podium at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. Kimi Räikkönen took the fight to Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel under the intense desert heat, eventually coming off second best to clinch the first podium of his comeback year with team-mate Romain Grosjean close behind in P3.
A similar story at the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix saw the E20 emerge as the dominant package of the weekend, with Räikkönen and Grosjean chasing the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton home to once again occupy the second two steps of the podium. Had it not been for the lack of overtaking opportunities at the Hungaroring circuit, the result might just have been even better…
The 2012 Belgian Grand Prix proved to be a tale of opposing fortunes for Lotus F1 Team, as Kimi Räikkönen produced a fine display to clinch P3 at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit while team-mate Romain Grosjean found himself mixed up in a sizeable first corner incident, resulting in a one race suspension for the Frenchman.
The season ended on something of a bizarre note for the team at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, with Grosjean making an early exit into the barriers on an increasingly wet track, whilst Räikkönen took a unique route around the Interlagos circuit (including an entertaining detour through the final sector) to eventually cross the line in P10; bringing home the team’s lowest points haul of the year.