Lotus' Mike Gascoyne has admitted that there were mixed emotions in the team's garage after qualifying for the season-opening grand prix in Bahrain, with the positive reliability of the two T127s balanced by disappointment at being out-gunned by Virgin Racing.
The battle to be the best of the three new teams in F1 went narrowly in favour of Richard Branson's equipe
, after Timo Glock got the upper hand over former Toyota team-mate Jarno Trulli by a tenth of a second, but Gascoyne insists that he expects his two cars to enjoy greater longevity when the race gets underway on Sunday afternoon.
“It's a little bit mixed emotions today – we wanted to be the best of the new teams, and we just missed out on that by a fraction, but as the last of the new teams to have been given an entry, only six months ago, it's a fantastic effort by the whole team to have finished our first qualifying session," the chief technical officer maintained, "We now look forward to the race and, with the strength of our reliability, and two very experienced race drivers, now it's all about finishing.”
The qualifying session had gone much as the team - and everyone else - had anticipated, with Lotus being joined on the sidelines after Q1 by fellow newcomers Virgin and HRT, but Trulli's 20th position - with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen 21st - proved a little frustrating.
“All in all, it was not too bad considering the amount of running we had this morning," Trulli opined, "We had some bad luck this weekend, but the team has operated very well, in a very professional way, and we just need a bit more time to make the step forward we need in terms of performance. Tomorrow, we need to try and finish the race, collect some useful data to find out more about what is right and wrong with the way the car behaves, and make that our main aim – finishing.”
Kovalainen confirmed that 'the car was very reliable, and the performance was roughly where we knew we'd be', but admitted that his fastest run was 'probably not the best qualifying lap I've ever done'.
"Maybe I didn't get everything out of it I should have done, but we have a good base to work from tomorrow," the Finn insisted, "In practice, the car felt like it would be good over long runs and, with the good reliability we have had, we'll see what happens. The most important thing is to finish the race, and then we'll see where we are.”
The return of the Lotus name to F1 saw a host of famous faces dropping by and watching the action from the team's pit and hospitality suite, including former Lotus stars Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell, and team principal Tony Fernandes admitted that he 'very proud' to witness the efforts of the last six months finally taking shape.
“I'm happy, very very happy," he claimed, "It was fantastic to see Lotus back on the grid after a 16-year absence and, with the potential for so many things to have gone wrong, it's just great to have finished our first qualifying session. Jarno broke the two minute mark and that's a great achievement in itself.
“It was also great to see Emerson, Mario and Nigel today. It shows we have credibility and it's a great endorsement from these legends that they see what we're doing and, in whatever way, want to be a part of it. The dream continues - and long may it last!”