Lotus Racing had ‘a dream start’ to their latest F1 adventure after six months of preparation led to ‘as successful a conclusion as the team could have hoped for” with 15th and 17th positions in Bahrain. This made them comfortably the best of the new teams.
Jarno Trulli finished 17th after having to nurse a sick car through the closing stages of the race, but he was full of praise for his new team. “I made a good start and avoided the accident at the second corner but found myself in the gravel so at this stage I was nearly last, but then I started picking up pace and catching the people in front. The car was understeering quite a lot and I couldn't really predict the balance so at the pitstop the team, who did a really good job, changed the front wing setting and I started pushing again and putting in some good laps.
“At the end of the race I had a hydraulic problem so I just had to get it to the end of the race. I'm really happy and proud for the team because in six months every single target we have fixed we have met so it's really good, and, as Tony said, one day Lotus will win and I hope to be here when we do.”
Heikki Kovalainen had no reliability issues in the sister car, and actually finished ahead of Jaime Alguersuari. He hopes the team can build on from the success of the opening race. “It was a good race for our team – to get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didn't have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that.
“So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves so that is fantastic. In terms of my race, I had a good start and was battling with a lot of guys we didn't think we'd be fighting with. My tyres were fine, and the pitstop was good, but I lost a bit of time whilst letting cars past, and we'll look at the strategy for Australia to work around that better. I really enjoyed driving the car, it felt really good and it was good to push. Everybody in the team should be really happy but now the honeymoon is over and we need to start working on better results.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne is also a very happy man this evening. “I'm very very proud of the whole team. Everyone here, and back in Hingham. Firstly I have to say thank you to both drivers. They drove great races – Jarno struggling early on but when he changed to the soft tyre he was much more competitive. Apologies to Heikki because he may have suffered from the strategy, and apologies to Jarno because he had a hydraulics problem and he had to slow down to get the car to the finish, but overall a great result.”
However, happiest of all was Team Principal Tony Fernandes. “I'm completely over the moon! I cannot describe the feeling. Six months of work and to have both cars finish is just unbelievable. We're thrilled, we're happy and the spirit in the team is fantastic. I'm really proud of Jarno and of Heikki and everyone here. It's a great start and better than I could have dreamt of. We wanted to finish the race and to do so ahead of established teams is fantastic.”
“From here we keep going. Before the race Clive Chapman gave me Colin Chapman's old Lotus cap and said 'when you win the first race you'll be the man to throw this up in the air like my Dad used to.' That meant a lot to me, it was a wonderful gesture and it's like handing over the mantle of one of motor racing's great dynasties.”