Lotus Team Principal Tony Fernandes has said that his new team are once again aiming to get both cars to the finish in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
The team exceeded expectations in Bahrain, being the only new team to get one of their drivers to the checkered flag, and ended the race with both cars classified.
Fernandes is looking forward to travelling with the team to Australia, a place which holds fond memories for him. “Australia is a special place for me – it's where I spent my gap year when I was younger, where I did a lot of work in the music business, and learnt a huge amount about that industry, and where Air Asia X has a very strong stake.
“The whole weekend will be great, but Sunday will be a special day for me and the many Australian Lotus owners when we see the T127 on track and mixing it with the world's best. After our great start in Bahrain we are continuing to stay realistic, and in Melbourne we are again aiming to finish and learn as much as we can in our ever deepening quest to get to the top. I can't wait to get there!”
Heikki Kovalainen has also been extolling the virtues of Melbourne. “It's very good to come here, the Australians are always very very friendly people. At the gate there were hundreds of people lined up waiting for the drivers to arrive and it's such a festival atmosphere. The weather always seems to be great here too, usually sunny, and it's good to come from the European winter to the sunshine and enjoy the city. It's a great city, so many cool restaurants and there's always plenty to do, so you could never get bored here.”
The Finn has also been talking about the challenges that will face the drivers at the weekend. “Albert Park is a very different circuit in comparison to Bahrain; it's a semi-street circuit, so the surface is different, and the grip – especially on Friday morning – will be quite poor initially, but will improve quite a lot throughout the weekend, so we'll need to keep on top of that and perhaps adjust the set up a little bit. Again, with a street circuit, the walls are very close to the track so you have to be up to it – you can't just brake as late as possible and miss the apex and then try a bit better and brake a little earlier. You've got to go little by little and hopefully nail it in qualifying.
“You've got to use every bit of the track, every millimetre of the circuit. It looks more dramatic from the outside, but we're used to it. Maximise as much as possible so you've got more room to get quickly through the next corner.”
Jarno Trulli agrees with his new teammate about the great location of this weekend’s race, and likes to indulge in his other passion when he gets the chance down under. “On previous visits over here I've made a few trips out to the countryside, having a look at the local vineyards and enjoying the weather. I love coming here – Australia's a great country with great people, so I always enjoy myself here. It's also good to try some good wines, some different local varieties, but I still prefer my own wine…..”
The Italian points out the qualities a car needs to conquer Albert Park. “On the track itself – it's very important here to have good braking, good stability and really solid traction. There aren't so many high speed corners here – it's all about braking and accelerating out of slow speed corners, and as it's a bit bumpy you really have to have good braking points and good braking stability from the car. All in all I'm looking forward to building on the result in Bahrain, learning more about the car and enjoying the weekend.”
Technical director Mike Gascoyne has been explaining how Lotus have been preparing the next few races. “Since Bahrain we've been working very hard back in the factory, pushing further on the new package for Barcelona, so the guys have been working hard in the wind tunnel as well as focusing on the expansion of our drawing office. We're in the process of closing down the drawing office in Cologne, which means migrating all the data as well as the ongoing work. On top of all that we've been looking at some of the problems we had in Bahrain and how we can fix them, so overall we've been very busy.
“Obviously doing all that and then coming straight to Australia, having to deal with the jetlag, the distance and the time difference isn't easy, especially as you get older, but it is part and parcel of the job and you just have to get on with it.”
Gascoyne has also been saying how the new Lotus team are embracing social media keep in contact with the fans. “One thing I really have enjoyed has been the feedback to the tweets we put out over the race weekend in Bahrain. Tony Fernandes has said he wants us to be very open as a team, and do things a little differently, so we've started doing that with Twitter and it's something we'll do more of in the future.”
Gascoyne says that the team are looking forward to the weekend, and that they have upgrades ready to ensure they remain the best of the new teams. “Turning attention to Melbourne – the circuit here is not often used for motor racing, there are some bumps around the track and it's pretty hard on brakes. We know the changes in setup we need to make and we have a couple of aero updates here which should bring a tenth or two, so overall we're looking forward to the weekend.”