Lotus confirms switch to Mercedes engines for 2015 F1 season

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Lotus F1 Team has today confirmed that it will be using Mercedes engines from the beginning of the 2015 Formula 1 season, moving away from long-term partners Renault.

Speculation about the deal first emerged at the British Grand Prix back in July, but has only been announced by both parties today ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

“We are pleased to have been chosen by Mercedes AMG High Performance in a significant long term deal,” team CEO Matthew Carter said. “We intend to return to the front of the field with the goals of winning grands prix and being a strong championship contender once more and we see this new agreement as one step towards this aim.

“The Mercedes-Benz Power Unit has shown good performance on track and it is our goal to marry this motive force to Enstone’s chassis expertise. It is our desire that the E23 Hybrid, powered by Mercedes-Benz, heralds a new era of success for Enstone.”

Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff was pleased to welcome Lotus on board, making up for the loss of McLaren as the British team switches to Honda engines for 2015.

“It was strategically important for Mercedes-Benz to continue to supply three customers throughout this generation of Power Unit, in addition to the primary focus on our Silver Arrows works team, and it was therefore clear that we would be looking for a new customer from 2015,” Wolff explained.

“Lotus F1 Team is an impressive organization that has delivered competitive on-track performances in recent seasons. We are pleased to welcome them to the Mercedes-Benz family and look forward to building a productive and performant working relationship in the years ahead.”

Lotus also confirmed that it will be using Mercedes’ current technology partner, Petronas, for its ‘fluid technology solutions’ from the 2015 season, which could put Romain Grosjean’s place at risk given his deal with rival company Total.

The first partnership with Renault for the Enstone-based team came in 1995, when Italian team Benetton switched from Ford power to the French marque for the second of Michael Schumacher’s world championships.

Ultimately, the team was bought out by Renault for the 2002 season, and it went on to win world titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006 before withdrawing as a works team at the end of the 2011 season, when the operation became known as Lotus F1 Team.

Given the superiority of the Mercedes engines in 2014, this move should give Lotus a huge boost ahead of next season after a disappointing final campaign with Renault that has yielded just eight points at the time of writing.

Provisional 2015 F1 engine contracts

Mercedes: Mercedes, Williams, Force India, Lotus (4)
Renault: Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Caterham (3)
Ferrari: Ferrari, Sauber, Marussia (3)
Honda: McLaren (1)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III