Formula 1

Lotus Extend Advantage Over Rival New Teams In Spain Qualifying

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The new upgrades Lotus Racing have brought to Spain this weekend allowed the team to increase their advantage over Virgin and Hispania in qualifying.

While comfortably ahead of the other new teams on the grid, Lotus were still 1.5 seconds off the lap time of 18th placed man Rubens Barrichello, but insist they are closing the gap to the midfield.

Jarno Trulli took 19th place on the Barcelona grid. “[It was] a pretty good qualifying session today,” said the Italian. “The result itself hasn't changed, but we have significantly reduced the gap to the cars in front.

“Yesterday I had better pace, so I'm not that happy with my performance today, but we now have a good gap to our direct competitors, and can start thinking about taking on those in front, which is thanks to the guys in the team.

“We still have a lot of work to do, and I think there's even more to come from the car, so let's see what happens tomorrow.

Heikki Kovalainen, who will start tomorrow’s race from the tenth row alongside his teammate, virtually echoed Trulli’s sentiments: “I think it was a good session today and I'm happy. We achieved all the targets we set ourselves and we can see the gaps growing in the right direction – nearer those in front, and further away from the other new teams.

“We won’t have these kind of upgrades every weekend, but I think the car will get quicker and quicker and we’ll keep improving all the time. For the race tomorrow I think we can do well and I’m looking forward to being out there and seeing what we're like on a long run.

Chief Technical Office Mike Gascoyne praised his drivers’ efforts in qualifying. “It was an excellent session for the team today, and a very good job by both drivers. Jarno has been a bit less happy with the balance of his car today than in practice yesterday, but still put in a great performance, whereas Heikki felt the balance had improved.

“Overall, our times today show how the package we've brought to Barcelona has helped us move ahead, so we can all be very pleased. Now we're all looking to close the gap to the teams ahead, and take the race to them.

Team Principal Tony Fernandes gave his view of the impressive progress that Lotus Racing have made over the last three months. “I'm really very happy. We've talked a lot about Barcelona, so turning that talk into results has been important and we have clearly made a big step forward.

“I think we're about a second and a half away from the established teams, and obviously pulling away from the other new boys, so hopefully that speed, with consistent reliability, will see us able to challenge higher up the grid.

“It's obviously good to see the results of the efforts that have been put in, and when you think where we've come from, about nine seconds off the pace when we first went out on track in testing in Jerez, it's a huge accomplishment to the whole Lotus Racing team.

“It's also great to see our profile continuing to rise across the world. We've launched our first range of merchandise here, and it's good to see flags in the stands, and shirts in the crowd, so we'll do our best to give the fans something to cheer for tomorrow.

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