Despite a second consecutive year without points for Team Lotus, Heikki Kovalainen has been able to draw on many positives from the F1 2011 season in the run up to the final round in Brazil.
The year has seen Lotus, to be renamed Caterham for 2012, put clear distance between themselves and the Virgin's and HRT's that occupy the back of the field. Kovalainen believes the positives from their campaign are clear to see, and is in a buoyant mood in the run up to the Grand Prix at Interlagos.
“There is a great spirit in this team – we are definitely going in the right direction, so we will all look back on this year as another step forward, and then make sure we keep that momentum up as soon as we hit the track in 2012," he said.
“For Brazil there's no reason why we can't have another very strong weekend. We have a new rear wing that should give us a bit more quali and race pace, we should be able to put in the same kind of performances we showed there and in several races before.”
In addition to the car's progress, the Finn has put in some outstanding drives this year, and he himself agrees that his own performance has been a large factor in a season that represents a solid improvement for the team.
“For me this has been one of the best seasons I have had in motor racing," he added. "As the team keeps growing and keeps developing I've just had to make sure I am driving as hard as I can, and every time I get out of the car I've been satisfied that I couldn't get any more out of it, so I can't really do any more than that.”
Kovalainen's team mate Jarno Trulli is also looking forward to the last race of 2011. The Italian seems to have taken a step closer to Kovalainen in recent months after the team has by and large sorted the power steering issues that affected him in the first half of the year.
Like his team mate, Trulli has rested hopes of an improvement at Interlagos on the new rear wing.
“I want to try and finish the season as well as I can – the car has felt good in the races and with the update we have to the rear wing I think we can finish the season with a step forward in qualifying, so let's see what happens.”
by Philip Barclay