Lotus pilot Heikki Kovalainen feels his new Lotus team have made good progress since their inaugural race in Bahrain two weeks ago, with himself and team mate Jarno Trulli qualifying ahead of the other two new teams to become the fastest rookie squad. At Sakhir it was Virgin Racing who had the faster car but reliability woes have plagued Branson’s team whereas the Lotus appears fairly reliable, Kovalainen managing to get to the chequered flag a fortnight ago.
Although Heikki Kovalainen was 2.3s down on eighteenth-placed rookie driver Vitaly Petrov (who incidentally had not driven around Albert Park before this weekend), the Finnish pilot was 0.8s clear of Timo Glock in the faster of the two Virgin Racing machines. Jarno Trulli positioned himself in the middle to underline the improvement made to the Lotus car.
I got a good lap out of the car and out of the tyres and in general the car feels much better than it did in Bahrain.
We have progressed with the set up, and as a team we are really stepping forward.
Our aim for tomorrow is to make sure we stay ahead of the other new teams, and finish the race with both cars.
There are a few cars ahead of me that if I can get a good start I’ll try to get ahead of – and then I’ll fight if possible.
Otherwise to get both cars to the finish I think will be great for the team. I’ll try to carry on where I finished in Bahrain, try to start tomorrow with the same performance I had in the last stint there, and chip away. Heikki Kovalainen.
Jarno Trulli suffered a problem with his seat during qualifying, but was still pleased with the progress made by the team in the performance of the T127.
I had a problem with the seat which meant it wasn’t easy to drive, bouncing around in the car, so it was a difficult qualifying session.
I’m pleased for the team though, as both cars are ahead of the new teams and we’re performing really well.
It’s good to see that we have quite a big gap to the other new teams on this track and we’re very satisfied with that – we’re confident for tomorrow and we’ll do our best to try and finish the race again. Jarno Trulli.
Kovalainen appears to have been given a new lease of life in the Lotus team, and often this year the Finnish driver has looked like a child in a sweet shop, his eyes permanently lit up with excitement. The team still have a long way to go but so far they are the only squad of the three newcomers to get a car to the end of a race, and it would have been a double finish had Trulli not retired on the final lap in Bahrain.
Let’s just hope Heikki can control his exuberance on the opening lap tomorrow afternoon.
Image © Lotus Racing.