Jarno Trulli has confessed that having now successfully edged away from fellow F1 2010 newcomers Virgin and Hispania (HRT), Lotus will be far from satisfied by merely beating the two teams deemed to be its immediate rivals – and indeed, will not be fully satisfied until it is 'the best of the best'.
That, of course, is what its illustrious predecessor Team Lotus could claim to arguably be, as the Colin Chapman-founded operation claimed no fewer than 13 world championship crowns – six drivers' and seven constructors' – at the highest level during its halcyon era from 1963 to 1978, and whilst the new incarnation of the legendary F1 name palpably has some way to go to threaten that kind of success, it is at least heading albeit slowly in the right direction.
In Malaysia, Trulli's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen broke through to Q2 in only the Anglo/Malaysian outfit's third attempt, and in Canada the Finn came close to out-qualifying one of the established entries – Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi – on merit.
The team has slashed the gap separating it from the 2010 benchmark from over five seconds back at the beginning of the campaign to less than two-and-a-half seconds now, incontrovertibly progressing the most of the new teams and now aiming to close the gap on the likes of Sauber, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Williams rather than looking behind at the pursuing Virgin and HRT.
For a veteran of some 224 grand prix starts – yielding four pole positions, eleven podium finishes and a popular victory around the tortuous and punishing streets of Monte Carlo back in 2004, it could be argued that competing now for a start-up squad is quite a come-down for Trulli. He, understandably, sees it rather differently – and argues that the only way is up.
“It's been a good season so far for us,” the Italian acknowledged, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
. “Of course, we are a new team and we are the best of the new teams, but obviously that's not our target. Our target is to be the best of the best, and to do that takes a bit of time.
“We are actually aiming to do that in the next few years, but for a first season we are very happy, because obviously we are pulling away from the other new teams and getting very, very close to the established teams. We are trying to give all our experience to the team in order to move rapidly to the front of the grid and to make this team great again.”
'We' includes not only Trulli and Kovalainen – grand prix-winners both from their stints with the sport's elite – but also highly-respected chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, and the Pescara native admits that although his T127 has been plagued by more than its fair share of reliability woes over the opening half of the season, the knowledge and expertise that the aforementioned trio bring to Lotus makes him confident of 'turning it around'.
“The relationship with Mike has always been good, and the fact that he was in the team was a kind of guarantee for me that on the technical side things were moving on and going in the right direction,” affirmed the 35-year-old Abruzzese. “That's why I signed for Lotus, and also because being a Lotus driver is a great thing.”