Jarno Trulli reckons Team Lotus should be able to enjoy a 'good weekend' in Malaysia, although he has conceded that 'realistically' they still have quite a bit of time to make up on the midfield pack.
The Norfolk-based outfit was still a long way off the established teams in Australia two weeks ago, and while Trulli did get to the flag in his T128, he was only 13th and 2 laps down on the front runners. Despite a disappointing start to F1 2011 though, the squad will be pulling out all the stops this week in front of its 'home' fans.
“I'm really fired up for this weekend's race,” Trulli said. “This is our home race and we want to do our best to make the fans proud of us. There will be a lot of support for us in the stands and having been here for a week I've already seen that the level of support has gone up a lot since last year, so whatever happens it will be a great weekend for us.
“I've been keeping busy since arriving and spent a couple of days up in the Malaysian hills training on my bike with a local pro team and that's given me an outstanding preparation for what is always a tough weekend in the car. Sepang is a very challenging track. It's technical and it pushes the drivers and the cars very hard but we believe that the package we have can help us have a good weekend here in Malaysia and I am really looking forward to seeing how the car responds in the heat.
“In a perfect world we would be able to do something amazing in front of our home fans, but let's see. It's still early days for us, and while we are clearly closer to the midfield teams than we were a year ago we still have some time to make up, so I think we are all being realistic and working very hard to continue moving forward.”
Team principal Tony Fernandes meanwhile is also looking forward to event at the Sepang International Circuit.
“Team Lotus returns home this week and we are all excited about the race ahead. There will be three teams here with links to Malaysia but only one team that has Malaysian blood running deep in its veins, with Malaysian staff contributing to our growth at every level and which has been built from the ground up in the same style as F1's grandee teams,” Fernandes added.
“We are enormously proud of what we have already achieved in just 18 months and we have done it through hard work and dedication, not by buying seemingly instant success through stickers on a car. We will continue to work extremely hard as we develop the car and the team, this season and for many years to come, but we will not rush into anything.
“Our team is growing in the right way, just like AirAsia has done, and when we look back in years to come history will show that by laying solid foundations now we will achieve long-term success."