Team Lotus join the midfield with success in China

Posted on April 18, 2011


Lost among the excitement and thrills of yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix was a big win for Team Lotus as one of their cars finished ahead of a Sauber and Williams.

Kovalainen helped Team Lotus beat the established teams for the first time in China. Credit: Team Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen took his car from 19th on the grid to 16th at the finish, the team’s best ever result compared to the rest of the field.

Even taking into account the Sauber of Segio Perez had to complete a drive through penalty, it’s a big step forward for the start up run by Mike Gascoyne and Tony Fernandes.

Ever since arriving on the grid in Bahrain last year, the Lotus have looked, sounded and behaved like the best of the new outfits. They squeaked home as the best of the new teams in their debut season after scoring a higher place finish but never beat established cars on pace. And this year, the team is comfortably clear of their second term rivals.

After the race, a delighted Gascoyne said: “That was an absolutely fantastic race from both drivers and from the pitcrew who performed brilliantly under huge pressure. It is very satisfying to have beaten two other midfield teams on track on pace and strategy and to be able to show that we have bridged the gap to the established teams.

“Both drivers made a good start and with the higher track temperatures we knew our race pace would be good, and so it proved. With the tyre degradation we were able to stick to two stops, which was always our plan and that allowed us to jump a couple of people, giving us our strongest race in F1. Additionally, we were only lapped once, right towards the end of the race, so I am very proud of the whole team today.”

They still have a lot of work to do, especially on the one lap qualifying pace. In this regard, Team Lotus are still off the pace – they say it’s a tyre warming issue.

But they are working on a blown diffuser which should give a big performance boost. Other teams have had issues getting it working properly but it will be much to have it than not.

Team Lotus – or whatever they end being called after the court hearing next week – are making big steps forward.

Posted in: Formula One, Race