Next stop Japan and the world famous Suzuka circuit. Loved by drivers, fans and racing gamers around the world, Suzuka is one of the classic Grand Prix venues. Over the years the track has played host to some of the most famous races in Formula One™ history, and is home to the legendary Spoon Curve and 130R, two of the most challenging corners in the race calendar today. Lotus Racing heads to Japan looking to consolidate its position as the best of the new teams at a track that rewards experience, endeavour and guts – three attributes that team drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli have demonstrated all season.
Heikki Kovalainen, who will be in Chassis T127-03 after T127-01 went back to the UK to be checked and cleaned up: “First I want to thank the boys at Williams for their help with the little incident that brought my Singapore GP to an end. I’ve had an amazing response to putting out the fire, and while it was clearly the best way to stop what would have been a very dangerous situation, if I’d come into the pits, it was a pretty spectacular end to a great race. We were racing Michael and Sebastien for position, and made the right call to fight them as hard as we could. It didn’t pay off this time, but not taking the easy option of just getting the car home shows what we’re made of, and that’s a very good feeling.
“After the race the whole team flew into Kuala Lumpur in a team-branded AirAsia plane. That was pretty cool – getting on board an aircraft with my race number at the back, and all the seats in green and yellow – it shows just how dedicated AirAsia are to our team, and it was an awesome feeling taking off and landing back at the team’s other home in KL. I had a couple of days staying with our Chief Exec and managed to get some golf in, and then went for a few days of relaxation before making the trip to Japan. I love Japan – it’s a bit mad, but in a really good way. The fans are pretty hardcore – they know more about the drivers than we do, and the track itself is obviously great to race on. I think we’ll do pretty well there. It’s quick, and you need a good rhythm to get the best lap times, but experience and concentration play a big part, and I can’t wait to get back in the car.”
Jarno Trulli (Chassis T127-04): “After what had been a very busy Singapore race I joined the team for the flight to KL before heading back to Europe. Seeing how everyone responded to ‘our’ plane was really cool. It’s the sort of thing that makes the guys in the team very proud and seeing how excited all the AirAsia staff were about seeing us on board was very special.
“Coming back to Japan is something I’m looking forward to. I really like the track and last year was on the podium in second place. I know we won’t be repeating that this year, but I think we’ll be ok. Everyone in the team is pumped up for the final few races, and we want to focus on beating our nearest rivals. We’re in a good fight, and the fans are being given some great action to keep an eye on further down the grid, so we’ll do our best to reward them.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “Suzuka is a classic race venue, one that really brings out the best in the car and the drivers. The team have had a bit of time off to recharge their batteries since Singapore, and I think they’ll get to Japan ready to get straight back to work and help us secure tenth place. As most of the efforts back at the factory have now been focused on the 2011 car for several months, we won’t be bringing any new updates to Japan, but it’s obviously good to see that even though our direct rivals are continuing to update their cars, we can still take the fight to them. Singapore was a great battle, and had Heikki not had to do his fireman act, we would have finished comfortably ahead of Virgin. We want to continue that next weekend and we’re aiming to put on as strong a performance at Suzuka as we did in Singapore.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “I’m just about over the excitement of the Singapore race! Seeing Heikki stay so cool under pressure really drove it home to me just how tough the drivers are – first making the decision to fight Michael and Buemi, and not let them pass just to bring the car home, lifted the spirits of everyone in the team after what had been a very long, hot weekend. Then having the clarity of thought to pull over in the right place, get out and sort out the problem – I think that gained him a whole new level of respect and it’s that fighting spirit that we love. Maybe less of the fire fighting in future, but not one bit less of the aggression.
“This has already been an incredible season, and it is a credit to everyone in our team that there is so much interest around the world in our future. We have achieved so much in one year, and, while nothing in life worth having is easy, when we savour victory the taste will be that much sweeter. For every single person who has given us support, praise and encouragement we thank you. We will leave no stone unturned to be the best.”