Lotus positive after extra Valencia day
|By Simon Strang||Friday, February 4th 2011, 17:29 GMT|
Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen finally completed a day's running in the new Lotus T128 at Valencia, after the team stayed on at the Spanish venue for an extra day's testing having cured the power steering issues that blighted it earlier in the week.
The duo set times that were good enough to place the pair 19th and 20th in the overall times for the opening pre-season test (Trulli: 1m15.679 and Kovalainen: 1m15.910s), and along with Ricardo Teixeira - there on filming duties - put another 91 laps on the chassis.
Kovalainen added that the extra time spent in the T128 on Friday only went to confirm the positive feelings he experienced on Wednesday: "Valencia was an excellent test for me.
"Even though we had some issues with the power steering on the first couple of days you have to remember we weren't even at the first two tests last year. Now we have a car that was ready to go with everyone else at the first test and to be able to run today without any problems is great.
"We have been able to start looking at the balance of the car in much more detail and I've had the same feeling that I did on day one – I think we have a good car for this year and as we continue to work on it here and at the other pre-season tests we can put some proper mileage on it without the reliability worries we had last year."
The Finn added that he was now convinced the car was a significant step forward over the team's 2010 car.
"One of the most tangible improvements from last year is the lower centre of gravity we have this year," said Kovalainen. "It's a smaller chassis and we can place ballast under it much more effectively, which means the whole car feels balanced in a way we didn't experience last year.
"Now, I can turn in without having to constantly correct oversteer or understeer and as the whole rear end has been designed with the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox in mind, it is aerodynamically much more efficient. It's basically a very good platform for us to develop, and to be able to feel that immediately is a very positive sign for me and the whole team for the season ahead."
Jarno Trulli mirrored his team-mate's feedback and believed the car could quickly become a midfield runner.
"We completed 91 laps with basically no problems and we've been able to start to get a feel for the car which was really what this test was about," said the Italian. "I agree with Heikki about the balance – it feels like we have a good car to work on in the next few tests and I think that we can pretty quickly get it to a point where it will give us a chance to fight with the teams ahead.
"The next test is only a few days away but I think there will be a lot more to come there in performance terms, and it will be good to get back in the car in Jerez and get more mileage under our belts."
The team's technical chief Mike Gascoyne added: "It was good to get the power steering fixed and back on the car for today so well done to everyone at the factory for turning that around so quickly.
"We completed 91 laps today with no real problems and both drivers managed to get a good feel for the car and the tyres. We weren't able to do any set up work – that will wait for Jerez, but it was an excellent day and we achieved the main goal of completing a decent mileage today."