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Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 12:48 UK

Lotus will return to F1 in 2010

Jim Clark in a Lotus in the team's heyday
Racing legend Jim Clark won both his world titles with Lotus in 1963 and 1965

Lotus are to return to Formula 1 next season for the first time since 1994.

The Malaysian-funded outfit have been awarded the final grid spot and join Campos GP, Manor and US F1 as one of four new teams for 2010.

The FIA has given current team BMW Sauber "14th place" for next season, meaning they are now first reserves.

However, motorsport's governing body says it will "consult urgently" with the 10 existing teams to expand the grid from 13 to 14 teams for 2010.

"The FIA believes that a good case can be made for expanding the grid to 14 teams," read an FIA statement released on Tuesday.

Lotus will uphold traditions - Gascoyne

"It will be consulting urgently with the existing teams regarding the introduction of an appropriate rule change to expand the grid to 28 cars in time for the first Grand Prix in 2010."

The Lotus team will initially be based in Norfolk, though its future design, research and development, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose-built at Malaysia's Sepang International circuit.

In its new incarnation the team is a partnership between the Malaysian Government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs.

It will be led by team principal Tony Fernandes, the founder of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, which owns the Air Asia airline.

Mike Gascoyne - who has 20 years' experience in the sport after working with Jordan, Renault, Toyota, and most recently Force India - returns to F1 as the team's technical director.

"We are not just a small new team, we have the possibilities to be a very substantial team," Gascoyne told BBC Sport. "And the FIA recognise that, combined with the name and that we're also a team based outside Europe.

Moss glad to see return of Lotus

"When you look at the calendar now, the centre of F1 is changing. With all that's happening in the sport, this is a very good news story for F1.

"Next year will be a huge challenge… we will be releasing the car late, and that has reliability aspects. But we'll target being the best of the new cars on the grid and I would hope by mid-season we are challenging the bottom rung of the current teams. That's achievable."

Asked about the exact involvement of Lotus Cars, the original company behind Lotus who are now owned by Malaysian carmaker Proton, Gascoyne added: "That has to be defined and it's under discussion with Proton and Tony Fernandes.

"I think we'll be able to clarify that in the coming days."

A statement from the Malaysian Government read: "The team will announce its two drivers by October 31 2009. Currently six local and international drivers have been selected," said

And Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak added: "This is not only a dream, it is a reality. Malaysia is part of Formula 1 and we are determined to do our best to make our mark in this arena.

"I believe this is a meaningful development that will boost Malaysia's image."


Just three hours after the Lotus return was confirmed by the FIA on Tuesday, BMW Sauber revealed Swiss-based Qadbak Investments had agreed to buy its team.

The German car manufacturer, which took over Sauber in 2005, had said it would withdraw from F1 at the end of July, citing "current developments in motorsport" as the reason for their decision.

BMW was the second major manufacturer to announce it was leaving the sport after Honda's withdrawal eight months earlier.

But the FIA said it had received an "impressive application" from the team despite the uncertainties over its future ownership.

BMW Sauber's reserve slot means they can fill any vacancy that might occur between now and the start of the 2010 championship.

The organisation behind the new Lotus team have bought the rights to the name Team Lotus - which competed in F1 from 1958 through to 1994 - and have been awarded BMW's place, also pushing out Spanish outfit Epsilon Euskadi, following an intensive selection and due diligence process conducted by the FIA.

Nigel Mansell battles Ayrton Senna

Senna wins the 1986 Spanish GP in a Lotus

The team won seven constructors' crowns and six drivers' championships, including wins by Britons Jim Clark and Graham Hill, during their golden era in the 1960s and '70s.

Three-time world champion, the late Ayrton Senna, drove for Lotus for three seasons between 1985 and 1987 - although the team enjoyed limited success during that period.

Lotus withdrew from F1 in 1994 because of financial pressures but remains the fourth most successful constructor of all time.

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see also
BMW F1 team secures Swiss buyer
15 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus name ready for return to F1
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Teams submit F1 entries for 2010
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Williams confirm F1 entry in 2010
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What does BMW's exit mean for F1?
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BMW Sauber reject takeover offer
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