Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli ended Friday in Japan nineteenth and twentieth respectively on the timesheets, ahead of the two Virgin Racing cars and the two HRT cars.
“I think we've got to be pretty pleased with today,” said Kovalainen. “We ran through the whole programme and even though we can't find the same grip levels as the guys ahead, I think we achieved what we set out to today. The battle with the guys around us is now really tight, and that's excellent, for us in the team as it keeps us focused, and for the fans as they have something to keep them on the edge of their seats.
“Obviously nearly all the effort back at the factory is on next year, so it's good that we can keep ahead of Timo and Lucas, and I think for the rest of the weekend it will be a really good fight between us.”
“It's always good being in Japan,” added Trulli. “I have some fantastic support here, and it's great to be here for the first time with Lotus Racing. It's easy to see what we mean to the fans, and next year will be even better for them, in so many ways for the whole team.
“Today we completed a good number of laps but I haven't been particularly happy with the grip levels and balance, in either session. I think there's a lot more to come from the car tomorrow, and with some more work tonight we should be able to find more time and more performance tomorrow.”
Lotus Racing this week have been mourning the death of Peter Warr, who died of a heart attack in France earlier this week. Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne spoke briefly about the man who become boss of Team Lotus after Colin Chapman‘s death.
“Today was the first day of running for us since the very sad news of Peter Warr's passing,” said Gascoyne. “This weekend we want to pay tribute to Peter who contributed so much to the Team Lotus legend. He paid us the privilege of being our guest at the first race this season in Bahrain and our thoughts will be with his family for the whole weekend.
“On the track it was a good day for us,” he added. “We had a solid session with both cars, running a normal Friday programme and we had decent pace and no reliability issues at all. We managed to complete as many laps as possible as obviously the forecast tomorrow is for a lot of rain, so this will be the only dry running we will have all weekend.”