Colin Chapman’s son Clive watched on from the Lotus garage in Valencia today as Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen qualified nineteenth and twentieth for tomorrow’s European Grand Prix, comfortably ahead of their fellow new teams.
Just like yesterday, Lotus avoided any unreliability problems, which have hampered their qualifying in recent races. Once again, their main aim for tomorrow’s race is to get both drivers to the checkered flag.
Jarno Trulli has been particularly unlucky with technical issues this season, but today out-qualified his teammate. “I'm feeling quite a lot happier now – things have been getting better all weekend now I have the new chassis, and as I've not had any real problems I've been able to work on the setup, which obviously helped today,” said the Italian. “I do still have a bit of an issue with the brakes, but it feels like a new start from where I've been and I'm pleased with the performance today. We are another step ahead of the teams behind and I think we'll be ok tomorrow.”
Kovalainen wasn’t too happy about being behind his teammate on tomorrow’s grid, but the Finn understands that finishing the race in Valencia is the main priority for the team. “It was a little disappointing for me out there today,” said Kovalainen. “I didn't feel as comfortable as I did yesterday, when I was very happy with the car. Today it seems I had to fight the car a bit, and I really had to attack to get some good times. But it's ok. I'm not too worried, and tomorrow I will push again and try to bring the car home to the end of the race.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne says that the team are continuing to move forwards, and their qualifying times indicated how their are getting closer to the established teams and pulling further ahead of rivals Virgin and Hispania:
“I'm very pleased with Qualifying today – it was a very solid effort from the whole team,” he said. “We were actually 2.5 seconds off the quickest time in Q1, and percentage wise that's our best performance of the year so far. We've moved further away from the competition behind us, so overall it was a very solid performance, with the whole team continuing to move forward. Now we'll have to match that with a two car finish in the race tomorrow.”
Tony Fernandes was also drawing positives from today’s performance: “There's a lot of good points that have come out of today – the main one is that we've finished quite comfortably ahead of Virgin and HRT, and it was great to hear Jarno happy over the radio – his new chassis looks like it may have brought about a change in luck, so let's hope that continues tomorrow,” the Lotus team principal said.
“Our engineers tell me we've taken another step forward today, and hopefully we'll get even more out of the new Cosworth engine in the race – it's very encouraging to see the performance of both of the Cosworth powered Williams cars today, so hopefully we can keep pushing like them and get both cars home tomorrow.”