Lotus have difficult day in Malaysia but both cars reach checkered flag


After a great qualifying session yesterday, Lotus Racing were brought back down to earth slightly today after a disappointing race. Jarno Trulli finished 17th, behind the Virgin of Lucas di Grassi and the two Hispania Racing drivers.

Heikki Kovalainen endured a tricky race day after an early tussle with Di Grassi, which led to a puncture. He was later affected by a hydraulics problem and had a lengthy stop in the garages while his pitcrew attempted to resolve it. The Finn did resume the race, but finished ten laps down and was unclassified.

Kovalainen remained positive after the race, and is already looking forward to China in a fortnight. “It was still a very positive race for us, despite the issues. My start wasn't fantastic and it meant I dropped immediately to the back. After that I got into a good rhythm, but started to see some issues on the dash. I tried to make a move on Di Grassi, but clipped his front wing when I was going past and damaged my left rear tyre, so had to come in to pit.

“Even with the problems we had the car was competitive and I was very comfortable. Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I'm not going to let this race trouble me – we learned a lot and now we'll move on and look ahead to China.”

Jarno Trulli had a tangle with the other Virgin driver Timo Glock but recovered to finish the race five laps down. “We made a good start, but then on the second lap I was hit by Glock, which made me spin, and from then on my race was compromised. Despite that I got the car home to the end and that shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort.”

Mike Gascoyne acknowledged the team couldn’t be successful at every race, but is taking some positives out of the weekend’s performance. “The beauty of sport is that you have highs and lows, and after the high of yesterday, with Heikki in Q2, it was a bit of a low today. Jarno had some handling problems due to damaged bodywork at the rear, and did a great job to bring the car home. With Heikki, he had some very high temperatures which we managed to fix in the pit, and as soon as he was out again he was very competitive, took the car to the flag, and really showed what the car was capable of. So it was disappointing, but at least we managed to get two cars to the flag. We've learned a lot and are looking to move on and be on good form for China.”

Team principal Tony Fernandes was a little disappointed with the finishing positions today, but thinks the team have learned a lot this weekend. “It was good to get two finishes; obviously we're unhappy with the position, but as we've always said it's a major achievement just to finish. And we did – as you could see later Heikki's car had good pace, so that's encouraging. We take a lot away from this weekend, and we'll take everything we have learned with us to China, and from Barcelona, as we've always said, we'll be looking to build on the very solid start to the season. I'm proud of the effort the whole team put in today in tough, hot conditions, and we're here to fight another day.”