Formula 1

Lotus Round Off First Season With “Fantastic” Quali Display

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Lotus Racing got the best result that they could realistically hope for in Abu Dhabi today as they out-qualified both Virgin and both Hispania cars to take nineteenth and twentieth on the grid for the final grand prix of 2010.

Jarno Trulli was the faster of the two cars, setting a lap time that was over half a second faster than that of Timo Glock, the highest placed Virgin runner.

“That was great and I'm delighted we finished the last qualifying session of the season as best of the new teams,” said the Italian. “The car was really good this afternoon which is a little surprising as I had quite a bit of rear-locking under braking which we didn't have in FP3. Nevertheless, the track was improving throughout the session, so it was important to get a good lap in at the end which I managed to do.

“I think I could have found another tenth but I just wanted to make sure we were in front, and the fact we are, with a decent gap to Timo, is a sign of how well we are finishing the season.”

Heikki Kovalainen was only a couple of tenths behind Trulli in qualifying, and acknowledged that his teammate had put in a good lap to finish the session above him. “I thought the session was ok for me but congratulations to Jarno for putting in a great qualifying lap,” said the Finn. “I think I put in as good a performance as I could, and as both cars are ahead of our direct rivals it's where we want to be. We'll look to carry over today's performance into the race tomorrow and the main aim is to end the season as best of the new teams.”

Mike Gascoyne was also pleased with today’s outcome, and looks forward to the race: “I don't think we could have asked for any more today. Both cars were strong, well balanced and dominated the other new teams which was the number one goal. We have worked hard all weekend to get the best out of the tyres, and both Jarno and Heikki did that in qualifying, putting us in a very strong position for tomorrow's race.”

Team principal Tony Fernandes was also keen to congratulate the whole team for the work that they have done this season. He had a bet with Virgin Racing boss Richard Branson at the beginning of the season – and the losing team boss must work, in full stewardess uniform, on the others airline for a day. At the moment, it looks as if Branson will be donning the Air Asia outfit in the close season.

“That was a fantastic display from the whole team,” said Fernandes. “To end the final qualifying session of 2010 so far ahead of our main rivals is a great effort, and is just reward for the extremely hard work everyone has put in throughout the whole season.

“I have enjoyed every second of this weekend so far. On top of the strong performances on track yesterday and today, we have been able to take a few more important steps forward for 2011 and next year is looking more exciting than ever. However, for now it is all about this weekend.

“Richard Branson and I were measured up for our flight attendant uniforms today and that adds an extra bit of excitement to tomorrow's battle, but now it is all about making sure we keep our concentration and focus and finish the season as well as we did today.”

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