Lotus F1 team says Mercedes engines too good to pass up for 2015

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez says his squad had to switch from Renault to Mercedes engines in order to return to the front of Formula 1 in 2015

The team recently confirmed it would run Mercedes engines from next season, breaking a partnership with Renault that stretches back to 1995.

Lotus will become Mercedes' third customer team next season, following McLaren's defection to Honda, and Lopez said the German manufacturer's current advantage over rivals Ferrari and Renault made the opportunity too good to pass up.

"Clearly Mercedes has the engine; we expect them to continue having it - they've just done a better job," Lopez told AUTOSPORT.

"And we were one of the rare independent teams that could have access to that engine.

"I think for the team it was the right choice. Not making that choice - a lot more people would ask questions if you have that opportunity.

"Renault has struggled clearly this season. I don't think they will struggle as much next year, but neither do I think they will catch up to Mercedes that fast, and so for us it was a pure performance decision.

"I think Renault has already been focusing quite a bit on one team, or at least two teams, in terms of rolling road (dyno) testing and so on.

"It's the way it is and for sure [the switch] is good for us."

TOTAL TIES TO REMAIN

Lotus will use Mercedes fuel supplier Petronas as part of its new engine deal, but the team's technical director Nick Chester said long-time supplier Total would be kept on for other lubricants.

"It's so difficult to validate a new engine with a different fuel," Chester told AUTOSPORT.

"Obviously Mercedes HPP [High Performance Powertrains] are only really going to develop with Petronas, so if you choose a different fuel you're putting yourself in not a great position.

"You then have to do an awful lot of extra work to try and run with your fuel on their dyno, so it made a lot more sense to go to Petronas for fuel and engine oil.

"But we do have a really good partnership with Total and we're going to use Total for all the other lubricants.

"So greases and gearbox oils we'll run Total, because a lot of our components we've developed with Total over the years and it will be tricky to go to somebody else."

Chester said Lotus had not been tempted to follow Force India's example in taking an entire rear-end assembly from Mercedes as part of the deal.

He added: "It locks you in on suspension geometry and the back end of the car, and we've got some good designers on gearboxes at Enstone, so we wanted to keep our own development."

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