Lotus Racing has had the best start of the three new teams joining the 2010 Formula 1 season before Sepang – both cars were classified in Bahrain, Heikki finished 13th in Australia – but the “homecoming” Malaysian GP was a disappointment for the team as Heikki Kovalainen wasn’t classified as a finisher and Jarno Trulli came in 17th and last. Expectations were higher than normal – the combination of the results so far, the “home race” factor and the relatively good qualifying session where Heikki made it to Q2, a first for the team – saw to that.
The Finn who started in 15th place had a tricky race. Off the grid, his T127 was caught in a tussle with Virgin’s Lucas Di Grassi which caused a left rear puncture, leading to a quick pit stop on lap 12. He had to pit again 20 laps in with a hydraulics issue but was wheeled out again after a quick fix to gain more track time and give the fans something to cheer for. He completed 46 laps, 10 laps less than the leading 11 cars.
“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,” Trulli said of his race.
“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,” said Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes felt the same. “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.”