There were mixed emotions down at Team Lotus after qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix today with Heikki Kovalainen significantly happier than team-mate Jarno Trulli.
Kovalainen qualified ninteenth, one place higher than Trulli, and reckons that he got the maximum out of his car today.
“I'm pretty pleased with that,” said the Finn. “I got held up on my second run but still managed to get within a second of the car ahead and I think I got close to getting the most out of the car I could. We definitely improved in FP3 and the wear rates weren't too bad so I think we're in good shape for tomorrow. It's a long race, and one where the safety car will probably play a role in how it all ends up, so the aim for Sunday is clear – make sure we get both cars home to the end and put ourselves in a position to take advantage of what happens ahead.”
Trulli was less than a tenth of a second slower than Kovalainen in qualifying today, and over a second faster than Timo Glock, who qualified just behind him. However, the Italian still sounded pretty unhappy.
“Honestly I've struggled with the car all day and even though I managed to get much closer to Heikki in qualifying I'm still not all that happy with where we are,” he said. “The guys in the garage have been working really hard all weekend to fix one or two problems we've had, and I want to thank them for getting the car to the point where I could get that quick laptime out of it, but now it's about getting to the end of the race tomorrow in one piece.”
The evaluation of Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne was somewhere between that of his two drivers, who also set out the team’s clear target for the race tomorrow.
“A reasonable effort from us in qualifying today,” he said. “Jarno was not happy with his car in either session today so we need to look at why that has changed since yesterday. With Heikki his first qualifying lap was good but on his second run he was compromised by the cars ahead when he would have definitely gone quicker, so it is encouraging to know there is still more outright pace in the car than we extracted today. The aim is the same as it always is for us on Sundays – have a strong performance, bring both cars home and do the best we can to push the cars in front.”
Team principal Tony Fernandes was critical of the way that the team handled some aspects of qualifying today but, overall, seemed pleased with how their weekend in Singapore is progressing.
“I am encouraged to see that the upgrade we have brought here has pulled us a little closer to the cars ahead but qualifying tonight was possibly not our smartest day in the office – we sent Heikki out just behind Liuzzi which definitely compromised his quickest lap, but on the positive side the changes we made overnight helped us to retrieve the couple of seconds we seemed to have lost yesterday,” he said.
“We know that we can mix it with a couple of the established teams on race pace so we need to make sure we have a good start, use whatever chances we can to overtake, something that is particularly difficult here, and get both cars home across the line.”