Heikki Kovalainen put in a good performance for Lotus in free practice around Monaco today, finishing just one second of the pace of Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari.
Things didn’t go quite as well for Kovalainen’s teammate Jarno Trulli, who had to sit out some of the afternoon session with engine trouble.
At the end of the two session, Kovalainen declared himself happy with how his day had gone. “Overall it was a very good Thursday on track,” said the Finn. “We completed both sessions without any problems and managed to complete all our programs.
“As soon as I got in the car on Thursday morning it felt good and throughout the day we’ve been able to improve it step by step, so we're definitely going in the right direction. We tried both compounds of tyres and they’re both working fine, and the long run with the soft tyres went without any problems, so that's also pretty encouraging.
“We ended up pretty close to the car in front and anything can happen here so I'm looking forward to qualifying and the race. I’m really pleased with today's performance and I think everyone in the team can be very happy with the job we’re doing.”
Jarno Trulli knows that track time is important in Monaco and was understandably disappointed to be stuck in the pits for much of the afternoon. “It was a bit frustrating today as I lost time in the garage this afternoon, and didn't really get the chance to push as I'd have liked on track. The times were coming down but unfortunately in Monaco every single minute you lose being on track is going to cost you a little bit throughout the weekend.
“Obviously I’m experienced, so on the driver’s side it won’t affect me but with the car we still need to find the right setup and the right balance. Despite this it’s good to be here and to see Lotus Racing on track, as I know how much that means to a lot of the fans, and also to see that we continue to improve the car every time we get out on track.”
Technical director Mike Gascoyne said that Trulli’s engine problem was nothing to be concerned about and is also optimistic about the weekend ahead. “Today was a reasonably good day. Jarno’s program this afternoon was cut short with an engine problem, although the engine in question was a high-mileage unit that reached the end of the line today. Heikki had no problems completing the planned program, with a good long run at the end, so overall the team had a good day. The cars are in good shape, and we're pretty confident there's more to come for Saturday.”