On the eve of Lotus' landmark 500th race in F1 in the 2010 European Grand Prix in Valencia this weekend, Heikki Kovalainen has opined that the latest incarnation of the iconic name is now 'starting to do justice to what's gone before' it with its on-track performances.
Having generally been the most impressive of the three F1 2010 newcomers since the beginning of the campaign, Lotus Racing took a significant step forward last time out in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, when Kovalainen got to barely two tenths of a second shy of out-qualifying Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi on Saturday afternoon, and then on race day 24 hours later, the Finn comfortably saw off his Virgin and Hispania (HRT) rivals to take the chequered flag in 16th place.
Whilst there still clearly remains much work to do to match the outstanding achievements of the original Team Lotus – an outfit that claimed a staggering 13 world championship crowns, 73 grand prix victories and employed the likes of F1 legends Jim Clark, Sir Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna – Kovalainen contends that by way of diligent progress and relentless hard work, Lotus 2010-style is slowly-but-surely on the right path.
“The last few races have been very positive for our team,” stated the 28-year-old. “We've been making progress every weekend, and the plan is to carry on pushing. For Valencia, and for the rest of the season, we're not looking back at the other new teams – we lapped them in Canada, so we're looking to keep taking the fight to the guys ahead, and I think we can do that.
“This is obviously an historic weekend for Lotus, and for Lotus Racing, and I think we're starting to do justice to what's gone before us – it's fantastic that we can celebrate such a great milestone in Valencia, and it will be an honour to be part of that.
“The track is a street circuit, but there is quite a lot more room on-track than in Monaco or Singapore, so it's more of a semi-street circuit. You can hit the kerbs harder and find a better balance between the straight-line speed and the grip in the corners, but this makes finding the right downforce level crucial.
“It's always hot there, and getting the best out of the tyres will be important – we have the super-soft tyres there, so we'll work on getting the best out of them on Friday and Saturday. I think we'll put on a good show and give Clive Chapman and his family – and all the Lotus fans – something to cheer for!”