Lotus Racing were slightly disappointed not to get both cars onto the tenth row of the grid in Korea today, but were pleased to get one car ahead of all their rivals in the other new teams.
Jarno Trulli will start the inaugural Korean Grand Prix from 19th place, but will start alongside Virgin Racing‘s Timo Glock instead of teammate Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn blamed traffic on the fact that he could only qualify 21st.
“I'm pretty disappointed with how it went today,” said Kovalainen. “We were looking ok this morning but I think the strategy this afternoon didn't give me a great chance to go any quicker – the traffic obviously played its part, and when you're trying to push on a dirty track it's always going to be a struggle. But we're here to fight tomorrow, and as the grip levels evolve I think our car will become stronger, so there's all to play for in the race.”
Unsurprisingly, Trulli was pleased to beat his teammate, and was in much better spirits than Kovalainen. “I'm happy with how it has gone today and I think my final lap was pretty good,” said the Italian. “The track was very dusty again in both sessions today, and that obviously affects the tyres, but I think we did as well as we could have hoped for this afternoon.
“I want to say thank you to my mechanics again because they have been working really hard all weekend – it has been a bit of a tough couple of days so far, because the bad luck I had yesterday limited my track time, and it's thanks to the guys in the garage that I've managed to get in enough running time to set me up for that quick lap today.”
Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne thinks that, despite a Virgin car splitting his two drivers, Trulli and Kovalainen should have a good race tomorrow. Both T127s will start from the clean side of the grid which, on such a recently laid surface, could be a huge advantage.
“I'm reasonably happy with the qualifying today, although it's a little disappointing that the tactics in qualifying, and the traffic, played their part in denying Heikki a clear run at a quick time,” said Gascoyne. “Jarno produced a very good lap to finish the best of the new teams on his final run, and I think that these grid positions give us a good chance of having a strong race tomorrow.”
Tony Fernandes noted that Trulli’s luck had improved since the gearbox issues that plagued his Friday practice sessions, and also talked about the impressions that the team are leaving on the local fans. “A pretty good day for us, and seeing Jarno put in such a good lap at the end of Q1 after a slightly difficult weekend on his side of the garage shows exactly what he and his pitcrew are made of,” said the Lotus team principal. “We made a mistake with Heikki's strategy, and that prevented him from being able to get closer to Jarno, but a good job by both drivers, and the whole team, to keep us ahead of our nearest competitors.
“From a team perspective, it has been very pleasing to see what a great event the race organisers have put on here in Korea. We were never in any doubt that Korea would pull something special out of the bag for us, and from the moment the cars first went out on track yesterday, the welcome Lotus Racing and the whole F1â„¢ fraternity has had here has been outstanding.
“It was particularly good to see a couple of very dedicated Lotus Racing fans waving our flag in the stands, and the Korean media have given us some excellent coverage, so I think we will leave here having gained another army of new fans. We will do our best to reward them with a strong performance in tomorrow's race.”