Lotus Racing’s Malaysian Grand Prix saw both cars cross the finish line at the Sepang Circuit, Jarno Trulli in 17th and Heikki Kovalainen unclassified, ten laps down at the flag.
After a visit to the garage from the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and the Badminton World Number One player Datuk Lee Chong Wei, both cars were poised and ready when the red lights went out. Heikki Kovalainen, who started in 15th place after a very good qualifying session, had a tricky race. Off the grid his Lotus Racing Cosworth T127-01 was caught in a tussle with Lucas Di Grassi which caused a left rear puncture, leading to a quick pit stop on lap 12. 20 laps in he had to pit again with a hydraulics issue but his pitcrew were determined not to give up and he was soon back out on track to complete the race.
Heikki Kovalainen: “It was still a very positive race for us, despite the issues. My start wasn’t fantastic and it meant I dropped immediately to the back. After that I got into a good rhythm, but started to see some issues on the dash. I tried to make a move on Di Grassi, but clipped his front wing when I was going past and damaged my left rear tyre, so had to come in to pit. Even with the problems we had the car was competitive and I was very comfortable. Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I’m not going to let this race trouble me – we learned a lot and now we’ll move on and look ahead to China.”
Jarno Trulli, in 18th position at the start, was in an early tangle with Timo Glock, but he managed to push through, finishing the race in 17th place. “We made a good start, but then on the second lap I was hit by Glock, which made me spin, and from then on my race was compromised. Despite that I got the car home to the end and that shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “The beauty of sport is that you have highs and lows, and after the high of yesterday, with Heikki in Q2, it was a bit of a low today. Jarno had some handling problems due to damaged bodywork at the rear, and did a great job to bring the car home. With Heikki, he had some very high temperatures which we managed to fix in the pit, and as soon as he was out again he was very competitive, took the car to the flag, and really showed what the car was capable of. So it was disappointing, but at least we managed to get two cars to the flag. We’ve learned a lot and are looking to move on and be on good form for China.”
Team Principal Tony Fernandes: “It was good to get two finishes; obviously we’re unhappy with the position, but as we’ve always said it’s a major achievement just to finish. And we did – as you could see later Heikki’s car had good pace, so that’s encouraging. We take a lot away from this weekend, and we’ll take everything we have learned with us to China, and from Barcelona, as we’ve always said, we’ll be looking to build on the very solid start to the season. I’m proud of the effort the whole team put in today in tough, hot conditions, and we’re here to fight another day.”