Lotus left looking for more pace; it wasn’t volcanic ashes that stopped them

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Lotus Racing was hoping for a little more today in qualifying and why not? It seems that luck was on their side heading into qualifying as their team boss barely managed to make it.

Lotus Racing Team Principal Tony Fernandes was one of the last people to make it out of Europe before most of the airspace was shut down, leaving Paris after being given the prestigious Officier of the Legion d’Honneur award in a ceremony on Wednesday, and arrived in China to see Jarno Trulli qualify 20th on 1.39.399 and Heikki Kovalainen 21st on 1.39.520 after a busy session at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Jarno Trulli:

“It was a shame because I think I could have gone quicker, but the strong wind played a part and it wasn’t easy out there. It was a very gusty and I struggled a bit with that but having had three good practice sessions I’m expecting a better race tomorrow.”

Heikki Kovalainen:

“It was ok today but I couldn’t quite get the perfect lap. The first two sectors were ok but just before the back straight I couldn’t quite get the exit right and I think I lost about three tenths there. The wind has played its part today – in some braking zones at the back of the track there’s a tailwind which unbalances the car, but the second to last corner is into a headwind and it felt really good under braking into there but it’s no big deal – it’s just one of those things! The race tomorrow will be better for sure. The car has felt good all weekend on heavy fuel so let’s see what happens then.”

The wind was a major factor for the drivers as they struggled to find the pace both felt was present in the Lotus Cosworth car. What did technical director Mike Gascoyne think of the day?

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer:

“It was the classic mixed bag today. We’ve been strong in practice and if it wasn’t for Heikki’s final sector we would have finished best of the new teams, but sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan. We were satisfied with the setups on both cars and while it’s been a bit disappointing I’m confident the work we put in throughout practice, on long runs with heavy fuel, will pay off for us tomorrow.”

You have to like that optimism and should the wind die down tomorrow, most are predicting rain so Lotus will have another task at hand. Presumably some or most of the teams did account for rain in their qualifying set-up’s.

The man who barely made it to China and always has a positive outlook on things chimed in with…well, postive thoughts:

Tony Fernandes, Team Principal

“First of all I’m just really pleased to be here in China! It was a very close shave – I think I was about an hour ahead of the airspace shut down and this is one of the races I’ve been really looking forward to coming to with the team. The spectacular growth of China over recent years is an inspiration to me and the whole Lotus Racing team – it shows how high we should be setting our sights and how we can reach the top by working hard to achieve your dreams. Seeing the fans’ banners for us in the stands makes me very proud, and shows that Lotus Racing has a real significance for Chinese motorsport fans, who know a good thing when they see it!”

Perhaps the fans will also see a good thing if it rains as the season so far has been exciting due to rain and a lack of grip which equalizes the competition. That’s not a bad thing for Lotus.

With rain sometimes comes attrition and this attrition or bad luck often plays into the hands of a slower team giving them results, that while beyond their station, certainty helps fill the coffers–there isn’t a new team on the grid that wouldn’t welcome some attrition at the benefit of their bank account.

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