Lotus: Kovalainen joins in midfield battle

2011 Chinese GP team review

Lotus became the first ‘second year’ team to beat an established team in a straight fight.

Heikki Kovalainen Jarno Trulli
Qualifying position 19 20
Qualifying time comparison (Q1) 1’37.894 (-0.424) 1’38.318
Race position 16 19
Laps 55/56 55/56
Pit stops 2 2

Lotus drivers’ lap times throughout the race:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Heikki Kovalainen 116.493 108.117 107.549 106.457 106.802 106.184 105.893 107.248 107.219 106.702 106.117 106.744 106.661 106.456 106.115 107.934 107.139 107.053 111.202 123.719 105.5 105.207 104.48 104.685 104.858 104.133 104.271 103.826 104.035 104.113 104.197 103.718 104.232 104.619 103.979 104.321 104.437 104.837 104.716 108.564 121.812 103.654 103.065 102.71 102.672 102.917 105.099 104.629 103.2 103.456 103.31 105.169 103.297 102.817 103.685
Jarno Trulli 116.772 108.569 107.305 107.046 106.578 106.457 105.987 107.159 108.318 107.207 107.241 106.692 106.394 106.409 106.868 107.178 106.711 107.742 107.29 113.515 124.368 104.704 104.407 104.532 104.407 105.69 104.251 104.008 104.135 104.141 104.082 104.118 104.255 104.28 104.799 104.815 104.868 105.594 105.649 105.273 105.47 111.61 123.764 104.164 104.889 104.384 102.636 105.721 103.358 102.857 105.234 102.311 102.052 102.776 103.134
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Shanghai, 2011

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Shanghai, 2011

Heikki Kovalainen

In the cool conditions of qualifying Kovalainen was over a second and a half slower than the Williamses.

But in warmer temperatures on race day Lotus proved able to compete with other established teams on merit for the first time ever.

Kovalainen’s two-stop strategy got him ahead of Pastor Maldonado and he finished the race in front of the Williams and the delayed Sauber of Sergio Perez.

Kovalainen described it as “our best ever performance.

“It’s not the highest place we’ve had but today we beat two midfield cars in a straight fight so I am very happy, with my performance and the performance of the whole team.

“We knew we would struggle in the cool conditions yesterday but today the temperatures rose and we expected to be able to put in the sort of race that would do justice to the pace that is in the car.”

Heikki Kovalainen 2011 form guide

Jarno Trulli

Continues to have problems with tyre degradation. Qualified behind Kovalainen and finished in 19th.

Luiz Razia

Drove in Trulli’s place in first practice. Damaged his front wing following what the team described as a “suspension problem”.

Jarno Trulli 2011 form guide

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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34 comments on Lotus: Kovalainen joins in midfield battle

  1. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 18th April 2011, 15:08

    Kovalainen’s two-stop strategy got him ahead of Pastor Maldonado and he finished the race in front of the Williams and the delayed Sauber of Sergio Perez.

    Thank you for that. Not really joining the midfield looking at circumstances. A wrong strategy from Williams (running twice on primes) and penalties imposed on the Sauber made the so called “joining”, not the performance.

    • Aetost (@aetost) said on 18th April 2011, 15:19

      It’s all part of the game, strategies, penalties, car performance.
      I agree that Lotus is not quite there yet, but they ‘re definitely on the right track. And don’t forget that both Sauber and Williams are large and experienced outfits.

    • James said on 18th April 2011, 15:19

      Well you say that, but lap times were comparable. Supposedly, Trulli’s quickest time in the race yesterday was ahead of Alonso’s, in a Ferrari. Now, you dont need to be a hardcore fan to appreciate that a feat such as that isnt half bad.

      Perhaps in Barcalona Lotus may join the fray in Q2 when they expect to make a big jump forward with an upgrade package.

      Massive congratulations on Lotus and Heikki, 16th out of 23 cars running at the finish. I would say that qualifies the claim that they are midfield team, finishing in the middle of the pack

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 18th April 2011, 15:28

      At least a small team like Lotus can be happy to have developed a better strategy than Ferrari.

    • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 19th April 2011, 9:38

      I’m just a fan of taking facts for what they are, not for somebody wishes them to be. It wasn’t “a straight fight with midfield teams”, not yet.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th April 2011, 9:56

      Doing well in F1 is not just about car performance. It’s about strategic performance and driver performance too. This was a straight fight.

  2. Mr draw said on 18th April 2011, 15:22

    I don’t think you can blame the tyre-strategy for Williams’ dismal performance. Lotus was just quicker in the race, or the Lotus was more “tyre-friendly”.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 19th April 2011, 7:55

      You are right, in both cases, Lotus then did the better job with Kovalainen than Williams did with Maldonado.

      • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 19th April 2011, 9:45

        No, not really. Maldonado was running on primes for about half of the race, 3 stops. Heikki not even a third, 2 stops. Do the math. Even the Red Bulls were easy targets on primes, so I think Keith is totally right about strategy giving Kovalainen the upper hand over Maldonado. 2 stop strategy or one sting on primes instead of two would have put Maldonado out of Heikki’s reach.

  3. Shomir said on 18th April 2011, 15:34

    Kovalainen really is one of my favourite drivers now, i mean, you would expect him to be all down and out going from McLaren to Backmarker. But he really seems to like this new team and i really wish he stays with them for a long time, bringing them to the top! :)

  4. TheVillainF1 (@thevillainf1) said on 18th April 2011, 15:43

    great to see Team Lotus improve race by race. You can’t forget they built this team from scratch just a year ago and they do seem to have a decent package this year that in the right circumstances could bag them a few points this year. Kovalainen is absolutely driving his heart out for them as well. Trulli is disappointing though, should probably look to replace him with someone more eager next year.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th April 2011, 15:50

    Trulli could eeeasily be replaced and no one would ever notice.

  6. SamS (@sams) said on 18th April 2011, 15:59

    Keith I love your analysis of Lotus: Kov: 6 paragraphs, your Truli analysis: Truli turned up, was rubbish! Made me giggle!

  7. HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 18th April 2011, 16:39

    Trulli is a lucky man.
    Lucky to have a seat.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 18th April 2011, 16:56

      and relatively competitive car. Look at his old mate in Virgin.

      • luca said on 19th April 2011, 11:33

        14 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:42.052
        15 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.070
        16 9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:42.406
        17 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:42.577
        18 15 P. di Resta Force India 1:42.614
        19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:42.672

        Fastest laps in China
        not so bad Trulli…

  8. Keith

    on Lotus, would they be able to secure a Renault KERS package at all?

    Mike mentioned earlier in the season that it was more to do with packaging than cost, but I dont know if they’d be able to recieve either package

    • silencer (@silencer) said on 18th April 2011, 17:11

      If i’m not wrong, few weeks ago tony said Team Lotus will not use KERS this year.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th April 2011, 20:48

        If I was them I would keep away from it this year. Concentrate on getting everything else right this year. Based on this weekends performance they don’t wanna push their luck!

  9. driftin said on 18th April 2011, 17:53

    Looking rather good for them. I really hope they become as successful as Red Bull in the future.

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th April 2011, 20:36

    Fantastic stuff from Lotus, really happy for them. Now…can they keep it up?

  11. MattHT (@mattht) said on 18th April 2011, 23:16

    Credit where credits due, Lotus did really well, I’m chuffed for them. Strategy and penalties are all part of the sport – get it wrong and you deserve to be punished – so Kovaleinen got his great result on merit for me :)

  12. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 18th April 2011, 23:28

    i’m watching mike gascoyne on the bbc forum, and they’re celebrating “racing the midfield.” how are 16th and 19th racing the midfield? it’s the lowest 25% of the field. who did they beat? the only non-finisher, hrt and virgin, and 2 rookies. trulli’s fastest lap was faster than alonso’s. whippedy-doo.

  13. Oliver said on 19th April 2011, 7:46

    I think it is about time Trulli retires to his vineyard. Lotus should promote one of their test drivers to gain experience. Obviously, Heikki is still motivated and can lead in car development.
    Points will be tough to come by but not impossible.

  14. bosyber (@bosyber) said on 19th April 2011, 7:58

    Good to see the team keeping up the steady rising line. Trulli does seem, once again, getting a bit long in the tooth though. I have noticed there isn’t even the qualifying speciality that keeps him usually ahead of kovalainen, and though his lack of results is oddly enhanced by ongoing bad luck, even without that he doesn’t really seem to be delivering as much as his team mate. Certainly in PR, he does the worse job, I think (but maybe I’m not reading all the good Italian PR he does …).

  15. P. Rippon said on 19th April 2011, 23:47

    maybe the Hulk will come in place of Trulli?

  16. Lucas "Mr. Veloce" said on 20th April 2011, 15:25

    I am still not sure about these third driver’s in P1, maybe they should not put the third driver in for the first race P1 but from the second race onwards, in Team Lotus’ case, if Trulli finishes behind Kovalainen, he’ll get kicked out for P1 in the next race and vice versa.

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