Six months of very hard work finally came to as successful a conclusion as the team could have hoped for on Sunday afternoon in Bahrain, with both Lotus Racing cars finishing the race, Heikki in 15th and Jarno in 17th (provisional positions) in the opening round of the 2010 Formula One™ World Championship.
Jarno Trulli (Lotus Racing chassis T127/3) “I made a good start and avoided the accident at the second corner but found myself in the gravel so at this stage I was nearly last, but then I started picking up pace and catching the people in front.
The car was understeering quite a lot and I couldn’t really predict the balance so at the pitstop the team, who did a really good job, changed the front wing setting and I started pushing again and putting in some good laps. At the end of the race I had a hydraulic problem so I just had to get it to the end of the race. I’m really happy and proud for the team because in six months every single target we have fixed we have met so it’s really good, and, as Tony said, one day Lotus will win and I hope to be here when we do.”
Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus Racing chassis T127/1) “It was a good race for our team – to get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didn’t have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that. So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves so that is fantastic. In terms of my race, I had a good start and was battling with a lot of guys we didn’t think we’d be fighting with. My tyres were fine, and the pitstop was good, but I lost a bit of time whilst letting cars past, and we’ll look at the strategy for Australia to work around that better. I really enjoyed driving the car, it felt really good and it was good to push. Everybody in the team should be really happy but now the honeymoon is over and we need to start working on better results.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne said “I’m very very proud of the whole team. Everyone here, and back in Hingham. Firstly I have to say thank you to both drivers. They drove great races – Jarno struggling early on but when he changed to the soft tyre he was much more competitive. Apologies to Heikki because he may have suffered from the strategy, and apologies to Jarno because he had a hydraulics problem and he had to slow down to get the car to the finish, but overall a great result.”
Happiest man of all was Team Principal Tony Fernandes who said “I’m completely over the moon! I cannot describe the feeling. Six months of work and to have both cars finish is just unbelievable. We’re thrilled, we’re happy and the spirit in the team is fantastic. I’m really proud of Jarno and of Heikki and everyone here. It’s a great start and better than I could have dreamt of. We wanted to finish the race and to do so ahead of established teams is fantastic.
“From here we keep going. Before the race Clive Chapman gave me Colin Chapman’s old Lotus cap and said ‘when you win the first race you’ll be the man to throw this up in the air like my Dad used to.’ That meant a lot to me, it was a wonderful gesture and it’s like handing over the mantle of one of motor racing’s great dynasties”
Visitors to the Lotus Racing garage before the race included FIA President Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh, but the day began with Tony Fernandes giving the team a stirring speech to thank everyone for the hard work so far, and lay out the challenge ahead, saying “The last six months have shown that if you dream you can achieve, but now it’s not about being the best of the new teams, it’s about making a serious challenge for the very top.” With a start like this, who could blame him for pushing for something truly amazing.