Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has said that improved reliability is a key target for the team through the remainder of the 2011 F1 season as it looks to secure tenth in the championship standings.
Although not its highest finish of the season, the team endured arguably its strongest race in Singapore with Heikki Kovalainen splitting Renault pair Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov, and Jarno Trulli also running in the midfield before being forced to retire from the race.
While Kovalainen's performance left the team pleased following Singapore, Fernandes insisted that the focus for the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend was to get both cars to the finish and remove the reliability issues it has faced in order to move closer to wrapping up the vital tenth place in the constructors' championship.
“I said after Singapore that that grand prix was just about our strongest ever race performance, and having been through the post-race reports it is very pleasing to see that our pace has definitely improved as a direct result of the upgrade package we brought out there,” he said. “Jarno suffered again with bad luck, but the reliability issue that ended his race is still something we need to improve on.
“We may be small and we may not have the facilities of the teams ahead of us, but that does not mean our standards should be any lower than them, so we have to make sure in Japan, and at the remaining races, that we are a two car team that can help us guarantee tenth place this year. That is a reasonable aim and one everyone in the team is working very hard to achieve."
Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne insisted there was no reason why the team couldn't again challenge in the midfield at Suzuka if it makes the right call on strategy given the tyres being taken to the Japan by Pirelli.
"Pirelli are bringing the Medium and Soft compounds to Japan and as the circuit predominantly affects the cars' lateral grip I think we will see degradation playing an even more pronounced role in Japan than it has throughout the rest of the season,” he said. “With the small step forward we saw from our new aero package in Singapore I think we can use that and a bit of clever tyre strategy to take the fight again to the cars ahead, and if we can get qualifying right we have proved we can mix it in the races in midfield, so that has to be the aim again for the race – make sure both cars see the chequered flag and be there when it counts to take advantage of what happens around us."