We only have a few days more before one of the most anticpated seasons in Formula 1 kicks off in Bahrain, and while the returning Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes GP Petronas will conquer the headlines alongside two-time champion Fernando Alonso (now in Schumi’s old seat in Ferrari) and the all-British world champion pairing of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, most of us will spare some attention for the Malaysian backed Lotus Racing, which has Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen as pilots. But what can we expect from the team in green at Sakhir?
Looking at the timing sheets from the official test sessions, we should be able to expect a “best of the newcomers” showing at Bahrain. At the final session in Barcelona last week, Lotus consistently put in more laps and faster times than “archrivals” Virgin Racing, which had seen a troubled start for its virtually designed VR-01. Campos, which has been renamed HRT, will not have a single lap of testing under its belt before Bahrain while USF1 is set to be a no-show.
“We have far exceeded the mileage that we thought we would do and, starting the project five months ago, the aim was to have a neat simple car that would be reliable for the first four races. It was a pretty tall order, and we’ve achieved it probably better than we expected we could.
“Three and a half seconds off the pace – that’s where we said we’d be six months ago and I think that’s where we are. We always said that the first four races were about being respectable, that level of performance and being reliable. We’ve done everything we’ve said we were going to do,” technical chief Mike Gascoyne told Autosport.
Gascoyne also revealed that the Lotus T127 will sport a major aerodynamic upgrade in time for the start of the European leg in Spain (fifth race of the season), which should bring big improvements. “Normally you are chipping away and finding tenths, but now we are looking at updates that will bring us a second,” he said. Driver Kovalainen was previously quoted as saying that aerodynamics is the T127’s biggest problem.
With the award of points now being extended to 10th place, there could be a tiny chance of Lotus snatching a point or two should a major incident happen up front or if the weather decides to play kingmaker, but for now, let’s just target seeing Sir Richard Branson serving Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak onboard AirAsia as the main prize.