Team Lotus began their pre-season testing a day later than other teams but a power-steering problem meant that Heikki Kovalainen could complete only 15 laps in the new T128.
The Finn finished bottom of the timesheets on a difficult day for the team, but still sounded upbeat.
“Despite the limited running today the car felt fantastic,” said Kovalainen. “It immediately felt like it was much better balanced than last year's car and the grip level felt ok, but it's a bit hard to make any real judgements as we weren't going for performance.
“Today was basically our shakedown and we managed to get through most of the checks we'd aimed to – it wasn't about pushing today, it was about checking the systems and making sure the new engine, gearbox and hydraulics are all working as we want them to.
“The whole team has had a very busy winter and everybody has been working flat out to make sure we could be at the first test of the season which wasn't the case last year. This morning we were the first car out on track and that's been the story all winter – we've hit all our targets and it was the same today.”
Mike Gascoyne, Team Lotus Chief Technical Officer, thinks that the problems will be sorted out overnight and that the team will make better progress tomorrow. “Firstly it was great to get the car out on track on time and I want to thank the whole team for pushing hard to get us to this point,” he said. “However, it was a bit of a frustrating day as we had a problem with the power steering that brought the session to an earlier end than we would have liked.
“On stripdown we have been able to identify the problem and it is a very straightforward fix so we will get the parts and spares here for tomorrow and should be able to run through the whole program. On the positive side we did all the systems and temperature checks and everything appears to be running fine so with the power steering issue fixed overnight I am sure we will have two full days of testing to come.”
Tony Fernandes conceded that today’s event were not ideal but said that testing is providing a welcome distraction from the naming arguments. “The whole team and I are very happy to be here,” said the team principal. “It is a real relief to be looking at timing sheets and data as opposed to press statements and court documents, and to be able to hear such positive words from Heikki after his first run this morning makes all the hard work worth it.
“Today was our shakedown and while it would have been better to run more laps it has been a very useful day. The power steering issue will be sorted overnight and then we have more time to work on performance and learning as much about this car as we can.
“It is worth bearing in mind that this time last year we were not even here, so to be at the first test and with more time on track to come before the action starts is a big step forward for the whole team.”