Team Lotus are heading towards the European GP full of confidence after learning a few lessons and after securing a major deal with GE. With Valencia being a track requiring low ride height and easiness on tyres, the team is sure it will suit their car perfectly.
Jarno Trulli, Car 21, Chassis T128-01:
“I left a very wet Canada and headed to my home in Miami for a few days of sun before returning to Europe for the next race. Despite the finishing position in Canada I was really pleased with my performance there across the whole weekend. It was a tough race for sure and I’ve already said that I think the FIA played it just right. At times it was obvious that the cars were undriveable in the conditions so when they stopped the race, and brought out the safety cars, it was exactly the right times to do so. I finished the race with the inerter dangling around between my legs – the guys on the pitwall were urging me to bring it home and while it would have been easier to park it, it’s times like that when you have to do whatever you can to help the team. Having a large lump of metal hanging about was definitely holding me back and I wasn’t able to push as hard as I’d have liked, but it was still pretty satisfying to catch the guys ahead and finish just behind them as we crossed the line.
“Now it’s Valencia. It’s another temporary circuit and a good challenge for the drivers whilst also being very safe. In contrast to Canada the track surface in Valencia has strong evolution over the weekend - It starts out dusty on Friday but by Sunday there is a lot of grip and the lap times come down all weekend. It’s a track where you need to find a rhythm. Sections of it flow but then you have other areas that are very much stop and go – long straights with hard braking at the end into tight corners. First gear is used a lot more here than most tracks and often at the end of a flat out straight so the brake wear is high. I’m looking forward to it – the Spanish fans are some of the most passionate in the world and they’ve taken Team Lotus to their hearts so I think it will be a good weekend for us all round.”
Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20, Chassis T128-04:
“Straight after Canada I headed down to New York with Tony, Mike, Ansar Ali from Caterham Cars and some of the team to take part in the GE announcement. We had a very good couple of days in NYC and at GE’s HQ and I’m really pleased for the whole team that we’ve been able to bring GE on board. Signing them up is massive news for us and is exactly the sort of partner Tony and Mike told me they were targeting when I first joined the team in 2010.
“After New York I went home for a few days before the trip to Valencia. I’m looking forward to the European GP as I think the heat and the demands of the circuit should suit our car well. It’s not exactly a street circuit, it’s a semi-street circuit with a very smooth track surface with almost no bumps and low kerbs. It has long straights and a number of tight corners that means finding the right downforce level is critical to maximising performance. Pirelli is bringing the softs (option) and the mediums (prime) which we haven’t raced yet this season so I think we will have some work to do on Friday to look at how to get the most out of them. We’ve been easy on the tyres all season so hopefully that will be the case again in Valencia, giving us strategic options that we’ve used well all season – Q2 is still the goal for qualifying and then let’s see what happens on Sunday.”
Mike Gascoyne, Technical director:
“We learnt a number of important lessons in Canada and that weekend is now behind us and we are straight on to Valencia. Before leaving North America I was lucky enough to go GE’s General Research Centre to be shown around, just after Tony had announced our partnership with them. From an engineering perspective the whole operation is breathtaking.
“Now it is back to Spain and the European Grand Prix. In terms of downforce levels Valencia is unlike most of the other tracks in the calendar – we run more wing than in Canada for example, but less than a number of the other tracks like Barcelona or Turkey. The prime tyre here is the medium which we are racing for the first time this season. We ran it in on Friday in Canada and it behaved pretty well but as degradation can be reasonably high on Fridays in Valencia, due to the amount of dust and sand on track, we will be looking closely at how it performs and how we can take advantage of the time difference between the primes and the options on Saturday and Sunday.”
Tony Fernandes, Team principal:
“The Canada weekend was definitely one of highs and lows. Our performance in qualifying was especially pleasing and the aim is to build on that again in Valencia and throughout the season, but the race was obviously a missed opportunity. It is important that we learn from that experience, cut out the same mistakes again and make sure we are in the right place to take advantage of such extraordinary circumstances in the future. It is all part of the learning curve and you have to have the lows to truly appreciate the highs.
“With that in mind it felt like perfect timing to go straight to the US and unveil our partnership with GE. Just before I went on CNN to make the announcement I was shown a picture of all of our staff back in Hingham crowded around a TV waiting to see me make the announcement and that was a special feeling. GE is obviously good news but seeing how much it meant to the people back at the factory drove home just how important that announcement is for each and every one of us in Team Lotus. We have definitely taken a huge step forward with the GE partnership and, on a personal level, I am delighted that a company that has supported AirAsia since day one has seen the same potential in this team. We are still very much in our infancy so to attract a brand of the calibre of GE at this early stage in our development sends out a very strong message to our fans, existing and future partners and the other teams in the pitlane that we are going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.
“Now our attention turns to Valencia. This is our sixth trip to Spain this year and a venue I particularly enjoyed in 2010. Valencia is similar to Montreal and Monaco in the way Formula 1 is embraced across the whole city and that level of support creates a fabulous atmosphere, on and off track. On track the goals are clear – repeat the qualifying performance from Canada and keep up our much improved reliability record to bring both cars home on Sunday. It would also be good if the other drivers on the grid could avoid using either of our cars as launch ramps this year…..”