Lotus Racing arrived in Melbourne, Australia, set for round two of the 2010 Formula OneTM World Championship. After exceeding expectations for a six month old team in Bahrain, with both Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen’s cars being classified and being the only new team to see one of its cars past the finish line, attention now turns to Albert Park’s street circuit and the challenges that it presents. After such a great opening performance the atmosphere in the team is better than ever and the huge number of visitors dropping by to say congratulations in Melbourne, and the massive volume of fans giving fantastic feedback online, attests to the ever growing popularity of Lotus Racing from within the sport, amongst F1 fans, and in the growing number of general sports fans being attracted to such an open, honest team.
Kicking off with his thoughts on Bahrain and Australia is Tony Fernandes, Lotus Racing Team Principal, who will be flying in on Saturday night to join the team for the race on Sunday: “Australia is a special place for me – it’s where I spent my gap year when I was younger, where I did a lot of work in the music business, and learnt a huge amount about that industry, and where Air Asia X has a very strong stake. The whole weekend will be great, but Sunday will be a special day for me and the many Australian Lotus owners when we see the T127 on track and mixing it with the world’s best. After our great start in Bahrain we are continuing to stay realistic, and in Melbourne we are again aiming to finish and learn as much as we can in our ever deepening quest to get to the top. I can’t wait to get there!”
Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus Cosworth T127-01): “After Bahrain I decided to go back to my European home in Switzerland, and spent nearly a week there. First, obviously, I was recovering from the Bahrain Grand Prix and then I had a few good training sessions before a quick day trip to Helsinki in Finland to meet some media. Then we flew to Australia on Saturday, and have been here since then; getting used to the time zone and doing a little bit of training and playing some golf while enjoying the sunshine.
“It’s very good to come here, the Australians are always very very friendly people. At the gate there were hundreds of people lined up waiting for the drivers to arrive and it’s such a festival atmosphere. The weather always seems to be great here too, usually sunny, and it’s good to come from the European winter to the sunshine and enjoy the city. It’s a great city, so many cool restaurants and there’s always plenty to do, so you could never get bored here.
“Albert Park is a very different circuit in comparison to Bahrain; it’s a semi-street circuit, so the surface is different, and the grip – especially on Friday morning – will be quite poor initially, but will improve quite a lot throughout the weekend, so we’ll need to keep on top of that and perhaps adjust the set up a little bit. Again, with a street circuit, the walls are very close to the track so you have to be up to it – you can’t just brake as late as possible and miss the apex and then try a bit better and brake a little earlier. You’ve got to go little by little and hopefully nail it in qualifying.
“You’ve got to use every bit of the track, every millimetre of the circuit. It looks more dramatic from the outside, but we’re used to it. Maximise as much as possible so you’ve got more room to get quickly through the next corner. “
Jarno Trulli (Lotus Cosworth T127-03): “After Bahrain I went back to Europe and stayed in contact with the engineers to analyse the hydraulics issues we had in the race in Bahrain, try to see how we could improve the performance of the car and review the general operations of the team during the race weekend, which were really good!
“Then I flew into Australia on Sunday night, so I’m still a little bit jetlagged – it’s a pretty hard trip coming over here – the ten hour time difference means it’s always difficult to adapt, but we just have to get on with it.
“On previous visits over here I’ve made a few trips out to the countryside, having a look at the local vineyards and enjoying the weather. I love coming here – Australia’s a great country with great people, so I always enjoy myself here. It’s also good to try some good wines, some different local varieties, but I still prefer my own wine…..
On the track itself – it’s very important here to have good braking, good stability and really solid traction. There aren’t so many high speed corners here – it’s all about braking and accelerating out of slow speed corners, and as it’s a bit bumpy you really have to have good braking points and good braking stability from the car. All in all I’m looking forward to building on the result in Bahrain, learning more about the car and enjoying the weekend.”
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus Racing Chief Technical Officer: “Since Bahrain we’ve been working very hard back in the factory, pushing further on the new package for Barcelona, so the guys have been working hard in the wind tunnel as well as focusing on the expansion of our drawing office. We’re in the process of closing down the drawing office in Cologne, which means migrating all the data as well as the ongoing work. On top of all that we’ve been looking at some of the problems we had in Bahrain and how we can fix them, so overall we’ve been very busy.
“Obviously doing all that and then coming straight to Australia, having to deal with the jetlag, the distance and the time difference isn’t easy, especially as you get older, but it is part and parcel of the job and you just have to get on with it.
“One thing I really have enjoyed has been the feedback to the tweets we put out over the race weekend in Bahrain. Tony Fernandes has said he wants us to be very open as a team, and do things a little differently, so we’ve started doing that with Twitter and it’s something we’ll do more of in the future.
“Turning attention to Melbourne – the circuit here is not often used for motor racing, there are some bumps around the track and it’s pretty hard on brakes. We know the changes in setup we need to make and we have a couple of aero updates here which should bring a tenth or two, so overall we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
You can follow the discussions of the Melbourne GP on our forum here.