Both Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were pleased with how qualifying went at Suzuka today as the two Team Lotus driver took eighteenth and nineteenth positions on the Japanese Grand Prix grid.
“I'm pretty happy with that, particularly as it was one run, one lap to get it right, and I nailed it straight out of the box,” said the Finn, who will start on the ninth row alongside Sauber driver Sergio Perez. “We took the riskier strategy with the tyres, went out late in the session and I think I may have even been able to find a bit more in the first sector, but overall I'm pleased.
“I went through 130R with the rear wing open which was pretty hardcore, but having been bold with the tyres we're in a good position for the race tomorrow. There's been quite a lot of talk about the tyre wear here but I'm not sure the degradation will be as big a problem as people thought. The long run on the soft tyres yesterday was good – I think we can get maybe up to 15 laps out of them, and as we have a few new sets ready to go tomorrow it'll be an interesting afternoon.”
Trulli admitted to making a couple of mistakes on his flying lap and is optimistic of grabbing a decent result in tomorrow’s race. “That was a good session,” said the Italian. “The car felt much better this afternoon as we made the right changes to the setup and even though I made a couple of mistakes on my quickest lap I still don't think I could have got much more out of it.
“Tomorrow we'll fight as hard as possible in the race and give our Japanese fans something to cheer for. Our pace in the races has been good all season, so I hope I can make as good a start as I have been in a lot of the races this year, play with the tyre strategies and see where we end up.”
Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was also pleased with the progress that the team made in the earlier Free Practice session today. He is expecting that tyre degradation will be an important factor here at Suzuka on race day, and says that the team are well positioned to deal with any potential tyre-wear problems.
“A good Saturday for us in both sessions,” said Gascoyne in summary. “Jarno and Heikki has issues this morning with understeer but we managed to dial that out for qualifying and their feedback was that they were both happy with their cars this afternoon.
“Jarno chose to do a run on the medium tyres early in qualifying to see if that could help him get more temperature into the brakes, and then the plan was always to do one run on the softs on both cars. We wanted to make sure we kept well clear of the cars behind and, with tyre degradation likely to play an important role in the race, give ourselves as many sets of tyres as we could for tomorrow, so job done.”