F1 » 28 March 2011
Lotus happier with race performance
Despite getting just one car home in Melbourne, Team Lotus insists that it was more encouraged by its race performance after a disappointing qualifying session.
While Team Lotus did not enjoy the sort of season-opener that pre-season hype may have suggested, the Australian Grand Prix did at least allow the Anglo-Malaysian squad to show the sort of form it had been lacking in qualifying.
Both Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli reported technical issues which they felt hampered their performance in Saturday's timed session, with tyre temperatures of particular concern for both drivers. The optimism that longer runs in warmer race day forecasts would be of benefit paid off, however, and, although Kovalainen was eventually forced to retire, chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was satisfied with the performance.
"After a pretty tough weekend, I am very pleased with both Jarno and Heikki's race performances," the Briton insisted, "We had an issue with a water leak on the radiator on Heikki's car and, soon after his pit-stop, that unfortunately brought an end to his race. He had been very strong on the options, so that was a shame, but he had looked good until that point which is obviously encouraging.
"Jarno struggled early on with the prime tyres, so we swapped him onto the options and he quickly found his pace. Our speed in the race was much more representative of the pace we had shown in testing so, for Malaysia, the target is to make sure we achieve that level throughout the whole weekend."
Trulli eventually brought his car home in 15th place, an improvement of five positions over his grid slot, and was later promoted to 13th by the exclusion of both Saubers. He remains confident that the T128 can continue to improve as the season wears on.
"It was really good to finish the race and to show that there is some pace in the car, despite some of the problems we have had to work through this weekend," the Italian veteran commented, "We now have a lot of very useful data we can use to help us move ahead in Malaysia and China, and I think, once we have got through these early teething troubles, we will show that we have taken the step forward we want to this year."
Kovalainen, meanwhile, was running ahead of his team-mate when the water leak brought his race to a premature end, and admitted that the weekend hadn't exactly gone to plan.
"Until the retirement I was very pleased with my own performance, as I had a good start and was then staying with [Jaime] Alguersuari and [Sergio] Perez," he reflected, "I think this has been a bit of a tricky weekend for us, perhaps more difficult than we had anticipated, but we have some time now to analyse why the pace wasn't quite where we had expected it to be, and to work on the reliability before we get to Malaysia.
"We're all ready to put in the hard work to make sure we keep moving forward, and these are still early days in the life of Team Lotus, so we'll put in the hours and look for an improved performance in our home race in Malaysia."
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