The Italian Grand Prix will mark the end of the European F1 season, and for Lotus, who currently sit tenth in the driver’s championship, ahead of the other new teams, the Monza weekend will mark a special milestone in their rebirth.
Race day in Italy, 12th September, will be exactly a year on from when the Anglo-Asian squad learnt that their entry into Formula 1 had been accepted. After Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli finished sixteenth and eighteenth respectively in Belgium, the team hope to mark their first birthday with another successful outing in Italy.
“Looking back to last weekend, Spa was in many ways one of our best performance of the year so far,” said Mike Gascoyne, Lotus Chief Technical Officer. “We have had better positions at the end of a number of races, but in terms of reliability, Spa was our strongest performance to date.
“Now we go to Monza and that's always a special place to race – the Tifosi create an incredible atmosphere, and while it's obviously focused on Ferrari, I think seeing Jarno and Heikki in our green and yellow cars will be pretty special for some of the most passionate motorsport fans in the world.”
Speaking about the anniversary, Gascoyne finds it difficult to express the enormity of what Lotus have achieved in their debut year. “It's hard to put into words just what that means to all of us, but it's already been an incredible 365 days, and we have many more exciting times to come,” he said. “I've been asked a number of times if I really thought we'd be able to do what looked to many like an impossible task – creating a team from literally just words on a piece of paper to now sitting 10th in the Championship, best of the new teams and with a very bright future ahead of us.”
Heikki Kovalainen is also looking forward to Monza, knowing that it is a venue attended by some of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic motorsport fans. “Monza is one of the real highlights of the year and it'll be good to be back in Italy,” said the Finn. “It's a very different type of circuit and it has a great atmosphere. Obviously Ferrari have huge support out in the stands, but so do the other teams as the fans just love F1.
“I think it'll be a pretty cool weekend – for us drivers it's a high speed track and with the low downforce configuration it makes it very interesting to race there. For the fans it's cool as well as the cars are pushed to the limit, and they look and sound pretty awesome on track.”
Jarno Trulli also has good reason to look forward to the next race, it being his home grand prix. “Monza is a very special Grand Prix,” he said. “We Italian drivers have fantastic support out there, and the fans are really fired up for the race. It's such a warm atmosphere, you can't help but enjoy it.
“The track is challenging, but it's not as technical as some of them. You obviously need good top speed, low downforce, good traction good braking stability. Everyone talks about the low downforce, but the brakes play a really crucial role. You need to have the confidence to brake as late as possible and as hard as possible at the chicanes, and then you need to have really good traction to get yourself out of them as quickly as possible.
“I think we saw in Spa that our car is pretty good at the quicker tracks, so I think we'll be able to repeat our performance in Belgium – as long as we come out ahead of our nearest rivals we'll be happy, and then we'll be back in the air for the remaining races of 2010.”
Team principal Tony Fernandes also emphasised how far the team have come since this time last year, and said what it means to be taking the T127s to Monza for the first time: “Exactly one year ago on September 12th our Formula One dream came true, and now we'll be competing at one of the world's great race tracks, bringing the green and yellow cars back to where they belong, and I can't wait to see the reaction of the crowds when we take to the track.
“Mike (Gascoyne) has already said what it means to him to see our cars racing hard just 12 months since we started work on this amazing team, and I echo his thoughts entirely. It has been an amzing journey already, but after Monza we'll be heading back to Asia, and it's going to keep getting more exciting with every step we take.”