There were mixed fortunes for Lotus Racing during Friday practice at (one of) their home grand prix today with Heikki Kovalainen completing 41 laps but both test driver Fairuz Fauzy and Jarno Trulli suffering technical problems which curtailed their running.
“It felt fine out there today,” said Kovalainen, who finished the day nineteenth, again the fastest of all the drivers in the new teams. “I had just one problem at the end with the power steering, but that was the only issue with my car. I'm not sure this circuit suits our car as well as it does with some of the top cars, but compared to the other new teams I think we're in good shape.
The Finn wasn’t exactly full of praise for the new arena section at the Northamptonshire circuit: “The new layout is nothing like the old circuit – now it feels like it's pretty straightforward. It's quite bumpy, and the corners are pretty simple, not like the old circuit where you got on the throttle and could find a really good line through the corners. I have no problem with the circuit, I just preferred the old one. ”
Fauzy was back in the T127 for the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix at the beginning of April, where he also participated in Free Practice 1. Behind the wheels of Jarno Trulli, the Malaysian test driver managed only eleven laps thanks to reliability issues, and finished the session in P23.
“First it was just great to be out on track at Silverstone – it was such an honour, and something that will stay with me for ever,” said Fauzy. “We had a bit of a problem with the engine at the start of the session, which was a little unexpected, but the team did an amazing job to change the engine during the session in less than an hour. This meant I had a good 40 minutes with the car, and in that time I could see we've made some big steps forward.”
Trulli only had three laps when he was back in the car for the afternoon session, and sounded pretty despondent at the end of the day: “I can't say much about today really – we had a problem with the gearbox that the guys spent most of the session trying to fix, but then it was clear it couldn't be done in time for today so we'll just focus on tomorrow, and hope the luck changes.”
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus Chief Technical Officer, explained how the team’s tricky day unfolded: “We had Fairuz driving for the first session and unfortunately, just before the session started, we had an airbox fire which meant we had to change the engine. This obviously limited his running but when we were able to get him out for the second half of the session, he once again did a great job, taking the car through all the engine tests, so thanks to him.
“With Jarno, we'd had to change the gearbox between the sessions, but unfortunately a bearing failure that we were unable to fix brought his session to an early end, so apologies to him for that. We'll work hard to put it right tomorrow.
“Heikki ran through his whole programme without any real problems, but he had to stop at the end of the session with a hydraulics problem. We could see from his times that, performance-wise, we're looking good – we've just got to make sure we run reliably through the next couple of days.”