CLOSING THE GAP - MONACO GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING
Lotus Racing put on a very strong show in Monaco today, in both the final practice, and the afternoon's qualifying session, closing the gap to the established teams still further, and finishing Q3 less than one second behind Kamui
Kobayashi's Williams. The day started well with Heikki finishing final practice under three seconds from the leading cars, despite not running the option tyres due to a gearbox issue that curtailed his final run. At the end of qualifying the team made good on the performance it showed in the morning, Heikki Kovalainen finishing 18th and Jarno Trulli
19th, firmly at the head of the new teams on track.
Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus Cosworth T127-01, FP3: 19th, 1.17.782, 18 laps / Qualifying: 18th, 1.17.094, 11 laps) "The first run was very good so on the second run I decided to go for it, take some risks and see what happened. The gap to the next car was about 0.9 so I thought if I really nailed a lap we might break into Q2, but to be really honest it was a bit out of control and it was just going over the edge and it became untidy. In the end I was able to put myself ahead of all the other new teams so I think that's fine."Jarno Trulli
(Lotus Cosworth T127-03: FP3: 20th, 1.17.865, 26 laps / Qualifying: 19th, 1.17.134, 12 laps) "It was a bit difficult out there today as I'd lost quite a lot of track time yesterday, which meant my last setup change was right before qualifying. Despite that, I did my best out there and we are much closer than a lot of people expected to the cars ahead. We have also shown a good improvement from where we started the season, so I'm reasonably happy with where we are."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A good day out there for us. We took another step forward in performance terms, showing in final practice and in qualifying that the upgrades we brought to the last race, combined with a good engine package, continue to help us close the gap to the teams ahead, this time to under three seconds. In qualifying I think we did as well as we could have hoped for - Heikki put in a very strong lap early on, and Jarno did the same at the end of the session to take us further away from the other new teams, so I'm very pleased."
Tony Fernandes: "I'm very happy, and I know I keep saying that after every qualifying session. Today we again finished best of the new teams but there was a real drive from Heikki and Jarno to try and get into Q2. In the past few races there's been an inevitability that we're not going to get there, but today there was a real belief that we had a chance, which caused Heikki to push really hard. He spun, but that showed that he was pushing. So it's been good today - to be 2.3 seconds away from the best time in Q1 is something we should all be proud about. It's also important that the whole team is very pumped up, they feel like we're making progress every race and after six races morale is very high.
"Looking forward to tomorrow, anything can happen here - obviously from where we're starting we need to make up seven places to get a point, and that's quite a hard task, but who knows, we may be able to spring a surprise. The drivers are very pumped up, we're learning a lot about the car, and after six races we are clearly moving forward and closer to the pack. Well done to Heikki, Jarno and the whole team."