Lotus Racing has announced that the team will soon be starting work on the design and build of a dedicated wind-tunnel facility at its Hingham base in the UK. In addition, Lotus Racing and Team AirAsia (the latter will compete in the 2011 GP2 series) will take over a further two units at the existing factory site, giving Team AirAsia a permanent home alongside the F1 team.

“To compete at the highest level in Formula 1 it is important to have all of the key elements involved in the design, manufacturing, testing and development of our cars under our direct control and on the same site. Today’s announcement about the wind tunnel, which will be combined with additional production, office and administrative elements, gives us both the facility we need to lay the foundations for long-term success and is a clear sign that we are very serious about competing at the sharp end of the grid as quickly as we can,” said Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer.

“We have already achieved a phenomenal rate of growth for the team, and now have all the main functions in place to take the next step up, but I think it is important to also see that we are using our budget effectively, and focusing expenditure where it counts.

“Investing in our own wind-tunnel, to work alongside our substantial in-house CFD facility, is a key element in establishing complete control of one of the most important aspects of the design and manufacturing process in our sport, and it is clear to see that this sort of investment points towards a very bright future for the team,” he added.

Team Principal Tony Fernandes had this to say. “Just over a year ago there were four people in the factory in Hingham, a team working in Cologne on the design of this year’s car, and a third group working in Italy on our aero programme. Now it is about the future, and today’s announcement shows just how serious we are about taking the next crucial step in the continuing development of both Lotus Racing and Team AirAsia.

“One day very soon, we see our cars in Formula 1 and GP2 being designed, built and raced by teams of people from Malaysia, Europe, South East Asia and from around the world. This is a very exciting time for our teams, and the dream is growing bigger every single day.”