Lotus is one of the truly iconic names that relate to Formula 1 but the team we see today that Romain Grosjean fought onto the podium at Spa bares little resemblance to the original Team Lotus created in 1954 by the legendary Colin Chapman. The Norfolk based Team Lotus won 7 Constructors titles and 6 Drivers Championships during its lengthy career from 1954 to 1994.
The current Lotus F1 Team is a very different beast indeed. The new team, which may not be with us for much longer if the rumours are to be believed, was formed from the ashes of the post-crashgate Renault. The team was originally formed in 1981 as Toleman Motorsport who in 1986 was bought out and rebranded as Benetton. In 2000 Renault purchased the team renaming it as Renault F1 and it achieved success when it won both Driver and Constructors Championships in 2005 and 2006.
Now Formula 1 is a very serious sport and possibly more importantly a very serious business yet its senior figures are seemingly up for a laugh, I am sure we have all seen team principles pinching each others bums or being pinched whilst being interviewed and yet this relaxed, jocular atmosphere rarely reaches our screens. However the social media department at Lotus F1 are taking a stand against this.
This is where the Enstone team is set apart from the rest of the grid. They have a light-hearted way of enjoying Formula 1. From the teams Facebook page that features mini Romain and Pastor figures and frequently runs competitions where the prize is “bragging rights” they have show a lighter side of the business. During this years summer shutdown the team spent the time taking photos of cardboard cut-outs of Romain and Pastor around the factory.
When Kimi Raikkonen was dithering over signing his contract, Lotus released a link to a video produced by Makia Racing showing Kimi being kidnapped in order to make him sign. Watch here
The next years video released by Lotus showed newly signed Pastor enjoying a break in his caravan until Romain hooks it up to his F1 car and returns to the factory. Watch here
This year Lotus has been involved with publicity for the new Mad Max Fury Road reboot and even created a car to help promote themselves and the film. Both Romain and Pastor were able to drive the car though sadly not during a race weekend.
Lotus’ humour has not always run smoothly. On the opening day of the Sochi Olympics Lotus tweeted a picture of 2 men kissing with a message of good luck to all the athletes. Sadly Lotus had just agreed a sponsorship deal with a Russian owned company and were caught out by the backlash from what was meant to have been a dig at the newly passed anti homosexual propaganda laws that had just been passed in Russia. It was later admitted that the person responsible for the tweet was no longer employed by the Team.
This seems to have been the only sour note for a playful team who have had more than their share of problems over the last few years.
In the words of a Lotus Press Officer, “We have our own tone and we do like to enjoy the sport that is Formula 1, hopefully our approach appeals to fans, sponsors and the Rocky Mountain Elk”!
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing