After a disappointing “homecoming” race, where Heikki Kovalainen succumbed to mechanical problems and Jarno Trull finished last, Lotus Racing headed to China aiming to bounce back from their first real setback. And in today’s practise session for this Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, it was business as usual for the Malaysian owned team
In bright Shanghai sunshine, everything went according to plan. The track was very dirty and grip levels were low for the morning session, but improved throughout the day and, despite a small problem for Heikki with a couple of minutes left in the afternoon session, all programs were completed and both T127s were again ahead of the other new teams.
Trulli and Heikki ended the day in 18th and 19th respectively. While they were only rookies to dip below 1:40, Trulli’s best time of 1:39.624 was way behind the “last of the rest” Nico Hulkenberg’s time of 1:37.867. Perhaps this familiar pattern will change once teams bring on updates for the Spanish GP, which is the next race after China.
“It was a satisfying day today and we achieved everything we wanted to on both cars, despite the fact grip levels were very low in the first session and both Jarno and Heikki were struggling slightly with rear grip. Jarno lost a front strake on his first run of the day and we replaced that quickly for his second run. Over lunch we changed the gear ratios on both cars and sent them out for the beginning of the afternoon session on hard tyres. Heikki pulled over after 30 laps as he had a low oil pressure warning and he stopped the car, but it’s not a problem and we’re looking forward to getting out again tomorrow,” Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne said.
Up front, Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets with a 1:35.217 lap. Mercedes GP Petronas’ Nico Rosberg was second, 0.248 behind the McLaren. Hamilton’s compatriot and teammate Jenson Button was third with 1:35.593. Michael Schumacher showed good pace to finish the day fourth ahead of the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber. The Ferraris were down in 10th and 11th. Watch qualifying tomorrow to see if there’s a change of places between the “big four”.