Heikki Kovalainen all-but confirmed Lotus as the highest-ranked new team in the constructors’ championship by finishing 12th in the Japanese Grand Prix.
With Jarno Trulli finishing 13th the team look set to claim tenth in the teams’ championship and win a significant amount of prize money.
|Jarno Trulli||Heikki Kovalainen|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q1)||1’35.346 (-0.118)||1’35.464|
|Average race lap||1’47.658 (+1.356)||1’46.302|
Headed the new teams’ drivers in qualifying, a few hundredths faster than his team mate and a second ahead of the Virgins.
Pitted behind the safety car but that left him stuck behind Sakon Yamamoto, who he took until lap 14 to overtake.
Lost time from lap 39 with an hydraulic problem but was safe from Timo Glock behind him who had lost even more time behind Yamamoto.
Started on the soft tyre and delayed his pit stop until lap 35, allowing him to get out and in ahead of Trulli. Took advantage of the high number of retirements to finish 12th:
It was a wicked race, really absolutely fantastic for me, Jarno and the whole team. We decided to start with the soft tyre, which was a little bit of a gamble, and then stayed out during the safety car.
The target was to build up enough of a gap to allow me to pit without losing places to the guys behind and we did that, though it was very close with Jarno when I came out. On the harder tyre the car just felt brilliant – I had a huge amount of grip from the second set and it was a lot of fun to push for the rest of the race.
Our pace was amazing – we were only lapped once and at this kind of circuit, where we needed to perform, we could not have done any more. An amazing day for the whole team, and now we’re another big step closer to that tenth place, which is obviously the main aim of the whole season.
Team principal Tony Fernandes said:
I am absolutely delighted, just so pleased for the whole team. The result today is a tremendous response to the negativity that we have been dealing with off-track over the last week or so.
This is the best ever result in the as yet very short life of Lotus Racing, and 12th and 13th far exceeds any of the expectations I had at the start of the season. The future for our team is so bright, and the decisions we have been making recently are giving us an incredible platform from which to build on days like this.
Thank you Mike, Heikki, Jarno, Riad and everyone.
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