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Lotus positive despite Kovalainen DNF
22 May 2011
Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne insisted there were plenty of positives to take away from the Spanish Grand Prix, despite Heikki Kovalainen being unable to build on his strong qualifying performance.
Kovalainen had matched the team's best qualifying performance to date by securing 15th on the grid and then ran well in the early stages, keeping a number of the established teams at bay despite sustaining damage to his front wing.
However, things were wrong for the Finn when he made a mistake at Turn Four and went off into the tyres, bringing his race to an early end.
"It's a real shame my afternoon came to an end like that,” he said. “I made a mistake on the entry to turn four and went off but up until that point the race was pretty good. Both Jarno and I were right in the mix early on and we were fighting in the midfield for a lot of the race but then the tyres started to go off and the early pace wasn't there for the later stages of the afternoon.
“Maybe we should have pitted earlier on but we've still learnt a lot from this weekend and can take that to Monaco where I think it will be a very interesting weekend for everyone."
Team-mate Jarno Trulli had got ahead of Kovalainen at the start and ran inside the top ten at points as the pitstops shuffled through early on. Ultimately, the Italian would be slowed by an exhaust issue towards the end of the race but he still led the newcomers to the finish in 18th place.
"The race was really good,” he said. “It was another great start for me, another strong start this season, so that was very positive. I gained a number of positions and was right in the race in the beginning. Obviously with soft tyres our car was looking better than it did with the hard tyres and that gave us a very good first couple of stints. Unfortunately towards the middle of the race I felt I had a problem with the exhaust which affected the rear end of the car and meant that my performance was not as good as earlier.
“But all in all, it was a very good race for me. I fought like a lion and I'm happy with myself and felt that I really got the best out of the car today. There's still a bit of work to do to catch up with the guys in front, but it's fantastic that we've lapped the guys behind us once again. The overall aero package is good - we just need to focus on developing that for the future and increase the gap even more from the guys behind, and keep on closing the distance to the cars ahead."
Although the end result wasn't as good as it could have been, Gascoyne said he was pleased with the positive outcome of the weekend as a whole.
"That was a long hard race that was all about managing the tyres,” he said. “Both drivers started well but Heikki suffered some damage to his front wing that helped Jarno get past. From then on the pace was good. We were trying to stay on three stops and maybe stopped a little late in the first stint, but in the end it was a shame we were not able to get both cars to the flag.
“Heikki made a small mistake and then Jarno had a cracked exhaust which meant we had to keep an eye on that, but overall we have made real progress this weekend and have amassed a great deal of data on the new package that will help us learn how to get the most out of all the changes, so it is another positive weekend for the whole team."
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