Karun Chandhok revealed after qualifying today that Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes had set him the challenge of qualifying within a second of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, a target he reached comfortably.
“I've got to say I'm pleased with how qualifying went today,” said the Indian, who will start tomorrow’s German Grand Prix from P21. “Tony had said to me that if I could get within a second of Heikki he'd be proud, and I finished about 0.8 off him so that's a goal achieved.
“One of the challenges today has been finding out how much grip there is on the soft tyres on low fuel and that was always going to be a pretty steep learning curve in quali, but my times have been coming down all weekend so I'm getting there.
“As I've been saying, the last couple of days have been about learning the car, the tyres and how to get the best out of the DRS system, so to get as close as I reasonably could expect to my teammate is pretty good progress .”
Kovalainen will start from his customary position of P19 and was, once again, comfortably the fastest driver from the three new teams. However, the Finn felt he should have gone quicker today.
“I'm relatively pleased with the performance today but I think there was still more to come from the car,” he said. “On the second run I was still struggling to get the front tyres working and I maybe pushed a bit more than I should so couldn't improve on my first run. That run had gone well and I was able to get a decent time in so all in all not too bad.”
Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne is clear about his targets for the race tomorrow, and gave his evaluation of today’s activities. “A reasonable qualifying session,” he said. “Karun has improved steadily all weekend and if he had put his ideal lap together I am sure he would finished just behind Heikki. On his second set of tyres Heikki made a mistake but that did not affect his overall position as he had put in a good lap on his first run.
“With the rain that is forecast for tomorrow I think we can put in a strong performance and the aim is to pick up some positions and have both cars cross the finish line.”