|© Team Lotus
Team Lotus hailed the Japanese Grand Prix as “a turning point” after it managed to finish the race with both its drivers on the lead lap for the first time since it entered Formula 1 last year.
Heikki Kovalainen came in 18th at Suzuka just ahead of his teammate Jarno Trulli with the Finn describing the race as near perfect.
“I made an incredible start, no wheelspin, the perfect clutch slip and was suddenly past a load of cars and up into 14th,” said Kovalainen who started 18th.
“It looked like everyone else went into reverse and I even heard one of the engineers laugh and accidentally telling someone else how brilliant the start was, and I thought ‘no! Don’t mention it now, I need to get on with the rest of the race!’ After that the first couple of stints were great. The car was working really well on the soft tyres and the stops were mega.
“Also - the fact that this is the first time this season we didn’t see any blue flags is very satisfying. Every time you have to let someone pass you are artificially slowing up your own race, and it shows our car keeps improving, as does the whole team. Ok, the safety car helped us, but then you have to be in the right place to take advantage of whatever happens on track, and today we did just that,” he explained.
Trulli however didn’t start too well and later had a problem with the gearbox that slowed him down in the middle of the outing.
“For the whole team this is a pretty significant result,” the Italian said. “We completed every lap of the race, and while that might not seem all that important when there are guys winning championships up ahead, it still shows we keep on improving.”
The team added that it “managed to extract every ounce of performance” from the cars citing that its hard work was starting to pay off.
“Suzuka is a quick circuit, not an easy place to take steps forward, so to have performed as well as we have done all weekend means I leave here absolutely thrilled,” said team principal Tony Fernandes.