Saturday in Bahrain saw Lotus Racing compete for the first time in qualifying with a host of famous faces dropping by and watching the action from the team’s pit and hospitality suite, among them former Lotus stars Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell.
Qualifying itself was much as the team had anticipated, with Jarno Trulli finishing 20th on 1.59.852 and Heikki Kovalainen 21st on 2.00.313.
Both drivers gave their thoughts after the session, with Jarno Trulli saying: “All in all not too bad considering the amount of running we had this morning. We had some bad luck this weekend but the team has operated very well, in a very professional way, and we just need a bit more time to make the step forward we need in terms of performance. Tomorrow we need to try and finish the race, collect some useful data to find out more about what is right and wrong with the way the car behaves, and make that our main aim – finishing.”
Heikki Kovalainen added “Pretty much what we expected. The car was very reliable, which is good, and the performance was roughly where we knew we’d be. I’m reasonably happy – it probably isn’t the best qualifying lap I’ve ever done, and maybe I didn’t get everything out of it I should have done, but we have a good base to work from tomorrow. In practice yesterday the car felt like it would be good over long runs, and with the good reliability we have had we’ll see what happens tomorrow. The most important thing is to finish the race, and then we’ll see where we are.”
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus Racing Chief Technical Officer commented: “It’s a little bit mixed emotions today – we wanted to be the best of the new teams, and we just missed out on that by a fraction, but as the last of the new teams to have been given an entry, only six months ago, it’s a fantastic effort by the whole team to have finished our first qualifying session. We now look forward to the race and with the strength of our reliability, and two very experienced race drivers, now it’s all about finishing.”
Having arrived yesterday, Team Principal Tony Fernandes was at the track and was very proud to see the incredible efforts of everyone in the team over the last six months finally taking shape, saying “I’m happy, very very happy. It was fantastic to see Lotus back on the grid after a 16 year absence, and with the potential for so many things to have gone wrong, it’s just great to have finished our first qualifying session. Jarno broke the two minute mark and that’s a great achievement in itself.”
Giving his thoughts on the motor racing giants that came by the Lotus Racing garage, he added “It was great to see Emerson, Mario and Nigel today. It shows we have credibility and it’s a great endorsement from these legends that they see what we’re doing and, in whatever way, want to be a part of it. The dream continues and long may it last!”