Small Problem for Kovalainen fails to dent Lotus Chinese progress

by Matt Auger

Lotus Racing continued to confirm their status as the best of the new teams in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship as they finished the first day well ahead of the other newcomers in the series.

For experienced Italian Jarno Trulli and former McLaren pilot Heikki Kovalainen – the opening day saw both cars run without any major problems as they completed all of the planned testing programs for the day.

Bright sunshine greeted the team at Shanghai, as did a dirty and low grip track. The track conditions improved during the day.

For Mike Gascoyne, Lotus Racing's Chief Technical Officer, the first day at Shanghai proved a successful maiden day for the outfit, as he explains: “It was a satisfying day today and we achieved everything we wanted to on both cars, despite the fact grip levels were very low in the first session and both Jarno and Heikki were struggling slightly with rear grip. Jarno lost a front strake on his first run of the day and we replaced that quickly for his second run. Over lunch we changed the gear ratios on both cars and sent them out for the beginning of the afternoon session on hard tyres. Heikki pulled over after 30 laps as he had a low oil pressure warning and he stopped the car, but it's not a problem and we're looking forward to getting out again tomorrow.”

The first session saw Trulli finish the session with the eighteenth best time, having completed twenty-two laps. Trulli set a best time of 1:41.531, before improving to a 1:39.624 in the afternoon, where thirty-five laps were completed by the former Toyota driver. Trulli commented on his days on track action: “A trouble free day today which is good, and hopefully the whole weekend will go without any issues. I'm still struggling a bit with the setup, finding a balance that really lets me get the best out of the car, but we tested different tyres today and focused mainly on our setup for the race, so I'm reasonably happy. Grip levels improved throughout the day and our lap times showed that by the end of the day the circuit was really bedding in.”

For Finn Kovalainen, he backed up Trulli during both sessions. Completing twenty-three laps during the morning with a best time of 1:41.779, he then improved to a 1:39.947 which left him nineteenth overall. Kovalainen completed thirty laps in the afternoon, and he said about the opening day: “It was good today, apart from the small problem we had at the end of the day which was nothing major. The engine switched itself off because we had an oil pressure warning but we got through the whole program today and I think we're in good shape for tomorrow and for the race.”

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