Nick Heidfeld has tipped Lotus Renault GP to 'maintain the early-season momentum' and continue taking the fight to Ferrari over the course of the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, as he reveals that 'the team's ambitions and targets are clear – to get to the top'.
Heidfeld followed up team-mate Vitaly Petrov's surprise but thoroughly well-deserved Melbourne podium finish in the Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser with an identical result courtesy of a pacy and feisty performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang – the experienced German's first trip to the rostrum in the top flight in exactly two years.
Although the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last time out yielded just ninth and twelfth places at the chequered flag due to an unfortunate double whammy in qualifying, still Renault appears to be nip-and-tuck with Ferrari – and arguably now also Mercedes Grand Prix – in the battle to be F1's third force this season behind runaway pace-setters Red Bull Racing and McLaren-Mercedes. Heidfeld – standing in for the injured Robert Kubica – is quietly confident that the Enstone-based outfit can make the position its own.
“We are working very hard,” the 33-year-old told the team's website, hopeful that the current upward trajectory can be sustained and that Renault can ultimately rediscover its title-winning glory days of 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. “The team has made big improvements over the last one-and-a-half years, and if we can keep that development speed up, we can maintain the early-season momentum.
“It's certainly not going to be easy because we are competing with the likes of Ferrari now, who we will definitely try to beat. Mercedes seems to have improved, and McLaren and Red Bull are still ahead, but the team's ambitions and targets are clear – we want to go to the top.”