Lotus Racing blamed traffic for their failure to be best of the new teams in qualifying for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
In a wet qualifying session, the Virgin Racing car of Timo Glock claimed nineteenth on the grid – a position coveted by drivers for the new teams – whilst Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen had to settle with twentieth and twenty-first respectively.
“There was a lot of traffic out there because of the weather which meant I couldn't really put together my best lap,” explained Trulli. “At the end I managed to get a decent time in but it felt like it was wetter than at the start of the session and obviously that meant I couldn't get ahead of Timo. Despite that the car has felt good all weekend in the wet and the dry conditions, and I think tomorrow we'll be strong. We kept a dry setup on the car today and that should put us in a good position for the race.”
Kovalainen agreed with his teammate about Lotus’ prospects come race day, but still admits that qualifying should have gone better. “That was a disappointing session for me,” said the Finn. “I was held up by traffic each time I went for a quick run and definitely didn't get the most out of the car, but I think we'll be ok tomorrow.
“It's a short track here and it's pretty normal that traffic plays its part in qualifying but yesterday we worked hard on making sure we have a good setup for the race and it will be good to get back in the car tomorrow and show what we can do.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer, agreed with his drivers’ evaluation of the session: “A fascinating qualifying session but slightly disappointing for us. Both drivers lost their quickest laps to traffic and Heikki in particular was held up by Heidfeld on a couple of occasions. However, with the dry forecast for tomorrow and the performance of our car in dry conditions we will look to have a strong race and get both cars home across the finish line.”
However, Team Principal Tony Fernandes did have something very significant to celebrate in qualifying. Fernandes is CEO of Air Asia, one of the sponsors of the Williams F1 team. He was therefore very happy that Nico Hulkenberg claimed a very unexpected pole position.
“Firstly I want to say congratulations to Nico for such an outstanding performance today,” said a delighted Fernandes. “That is the first Williams pole since 2005 and the very first time AirAsia can celebrate a pole position – the whole team deserves every plaudit coming their way today and I am very proud to be part of the Williams dream.
“For Lotus Racing it was a decent job today from both Jarno and Heikki who were obviously held up by the traffic. It is still very pleasing that we keep taking the fight to our direct competitors even though we have been focusing on next year’s car since back in July.
Fernandes also made a brief comment about the interest surrounding Lotus Racing‘s team name for next season and also, presumably, addressing the rumour that the Renault F1 team will next year be going into partnership with Lotus Cars:
“It is also satisfying to see that all of the off-track attention that is being paid to the team has not distracted any of us from what is important. I will be making an official statement about the off-track situation in due course but for now we are focusing on being a professional race team that is gaining more experience with every lap and turning that into long-term success.”