Despite dropping out in Q1 once again, Team Lotus were delighted with their qualifying performance at the Hungaroring after finishing within three tenths of a second of the Toro Rosso that joined them in the drop zone.
Heikki Kovalainen, a former winner at this circuit, qualified in 19th place with a 1:24.372 despite struggling with the balance of the T128 through free practice. The Finn revealed that some late set-up changes paid dividends in qualifying.
“After a bit of a tough weekend so far I'm really pleased with how quali finished up. I've not been able to find a balance I'm happy with all weekend and we made a couple of changes for qualifying that finally took us in the right direction. On the first run I couldn't get a clean lap together, but I was quietly optimistic we could hook it all up on the second run and that's how it ended up. I had to work pretty hard to get it all right and it's very pleasing to see it come good in the last minutes of Q1. The updates we've brought here are working very well for us and it looks like we've made a gain relative to the guys ahead, and with Jarno clearly much more competitive here the mood is really good across the whole team.”
Jarno Trulli has benefitted from a new power steering system this weekend which he feels has transformed the car. The Italian was hot on the heels of his teammate and is looking forward to an interesting race with tyre strategies likely to be mixed.
“This has been a very good day, even though in qualifying I didn't manage to get everything I could out of the car. On the first run we went with the prime and the car was oversteering a little. On the second run we went onto the super softs and found more understeer than I'd had all weekend so I wasn't really able to find the pace I'd had yesterday and this morning. Despite that I am really pleased with how this weekend's gone. The new power steering system has transformed the car for me and I'm so much happier now – it's really like night and day, and I can't wait to get back in tomorrow and see what we can do in the race. The difference between the two tyre choices means strategy will come into play in a big way, so let's see what we can do.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne was particularly satisfied with the improved performance of Trulli and believes the team are well set-up for tomorrow's Grand Prix.
“That was a pretty good qualifying for the team. We only ran one set of options on both cars in Q1 to save them for the race which will put us in good a position for the race tomorrow with the degradation levels we are going to see. Both drivers did a good job today. Jarno has been much happier with the car all weekend but couldn't quite translate that into his qualifying runs. He made a couple of small mistakes on his quickest lap which cost him a bit but it is good to see how well he has responded to the updates we have brought. Heikki has been less happy with the balance this weekend but he did an excellent job to get the most out of the car, so well done to him and the whole team.”