Kovalainen: lighter T128 “feels like a proper F1 car”

2011 F1 testing

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Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Jerez, 2011

Heikki Kovalainen is happy with the progress Lotus have made with their new F1 car.

Speaking to journalists after today’s test in Jerez he said: “The whole concept is now a modern Formula 1 car. It’s much more like a Formula 1 car should be.

“The rear end is very good. The gearbox and the engine feels good, the gear-changes and generally the rear end is working really well.

“And the chassis feels like a proper Formula 1 car. It’s much, much lighter. This time last year we were overweight, we could not take any weight out of the car. Now we have ballast in the car – a lot of ballast.

“So it’s a huge difference. I don’t know how much the chassis is lighter – I think it’s around 20 kilos, something like that.

“Of course we still need to improve and find more pace. But it’s very encouraging what the team has been able to do in a short period of time. Of course now it gets difficult – the last part to catch the guys ahead of us is going to be tricky.”

The team has had a series of technical problems in testing so far and Kovalainen hopes the car will be reliable for the first race of the year:

“All the problems that we’ve had have been relatively minor issues but we haven’t had spares here.

“Everything’s been rushed to get to the first few tests. We are still short of spares and it’s been a little bit unfortunate but no problem has repeated itself, we’ve managed to fix the problems and that’s one of the reasons why we’re here.

“We need to get over these initial problems and then we need to put a lot of miles on the car. Then there will be another wave of problems coming. Once we sort those problems out – the second wave, if you like – then the car will be reliable. Hopefully we can do that before the first race.”

Kovalainen had to cope with an exhaust problem on the car today. The team will try to fix it overnight to give him the opportunity to do some longer runs tomorrow.

He said: “We had problems that at some point looked as though they were going to limit our running.

“We had a problem with the exhaust but we managed to get a spare over here. And I think in the afternoon we were able to complete two very good set-up tests.

“So I think overall three very good tests done today which was good and I also a got feel for all sorts of tyre compounds.”

Kovalainen added the difference between the four tyre compounds supplied by Pirelli was “less than I was expecting”.

“And to be honest even less degradation that I was expecting.

“I don’t know if the circuit is improving and the conditions are getting better but it felt better for me than from what Jarno [Trulli] was describing yesterday and reading the other drivers’ comments.

“I haven’t done a 12-lap run yet so we need to do that and then we’ll know better.

He added: “For me the super-soft and soft felt quite good – especially the soft, it felt good. Even the degradation didn’t feel too bad.

“The medium compound already feels like it’s not really biting into the tarmac very well. It’s not degrading, either, it just seems a bit slow. Slightly too hard for this circuit, that’s my impression.”

He said the biggest difference between this year’s tyres and last year’s is their performance in high speed corners:

“For me the rear end is more tricky at high speed. Generally last year the rear, when it was moving and if the car was oversteering, was more of a gentle slide, whereas now it feels sharper and some moments are surprising.

“So, inconsistent rear grip at high speed. At low speed it’s not a huge difference so far, for me. You need to exit high speed on the power.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    18 comments on “Kovalainen: lighter T128 “feels like a proper F1 car””

    1. Sounds pretty good. Interesing thoughts on the tyres, the medium being a bit to hard for Jerez. I think the track is well rubbered in after over 2 days of extensive running, so that will possibly be the reason for less degrading.

      1. That bit about the medium compound also echoes what Sutil said about them yesterday, so that could be something all teams feel.

    2. I didn’t realise last years car was overweight

      1. Mustve been as a result of Mike Gasgoine making sure the car was going to be reliable with an extremely short lead time.

        1. And just generally not having enough time to weight optimize each and every component.

    3. The gearbox is the same model made by Redbull for their 2009 car, the RB5. This gearbox was designed for a single diffuser so should be better for the 2011 rules than the gearbox in last years Redbull which was optimized in shape for a double diffuser. :)

      1. Also, last years rb gearbox casing was carbon fibre, and they’re not giving that away for love nor money lol

    4. Gotta respect Kovi and Trull developing that car, and sticking with Lotus. Really appreciate those guys investing years ‘off’ what could be front running teams and building a well grounded, well built new team and equally well approached F1 car.. Big up ya Lotus massive!! :)

      1. I don’t know about “investing a year off what could have been a front running team”. Who would they have driven for if not for Lotus/Another new team. The top/midfield teams weren’t exactly clamouring for them.

      2. they are not “investing” years off. Nobody wanted them for 2010 so they had no other choice than go to Lotus :P.

        I respect that they still try hard to develop the car tho. But I don’t think Trulli should be driving anymore!

        1. Renault was after Kovalainen ever since they knew his time in McLaren was over. In the end they had to go with russian money instead, while Heikki went with his heart to build up Lotus. The chance that no-one wanted a GP winner and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet on the grid, a real PR dream compared to most was never a reality.

        2. Well they’re not spending years on front running teams are they?

          Whether they have the choice or not, they are building a team up, and they look like they’re going to be doing a great job at it.

          Lotus will I feel be a proper mid field team this year and who knows what next year.

    5. It sounds like the Louts could be kind on its tires. If some of the other cars are as bad as some of the drivers have been making out this could be crucial (sorry for the legardism)

      1. What’s ‘legardism’??

        1. I like to think of it as a Quasi-religious movement honouring the ways and teaching of Jonathan Legard (former BBC f1 commentator). Alternatively, and perhaps more often, the word can be used to describe a muddled phrase, mispronunciation, out-of-context remarks and/or outbursts, repetition.
          As a devout Brundlist, I used to become tired of Legard’s commentary, but as the (two) seasons passed I grew to appreciate the way that Legardisms forced me to rely on my own senses.
          By recognising ‘legardisms’ I became more aware of the sport; I found the more I studied F1, the more Legardisms were there waiting for me, every Saturday and Sunday – until one day I realised they could be celebrated by eating chocolate buttons.
          Now, in the post-legard, Neo-Brundlist era, commentary may prove to be more precise, more related to what is going on and less likely to induce red-button-pressing, but the Spirit of Legard will live on in my heart.
          You can become a follower in the church of legard: (follow @legardism on twitter) ;D

          Oh and in this case the legardism was ‘could be crucial’ (?)

        2. Probably referring to Jonathan Legard, BBC commentator.

    6. I don’t really have an opinion on the whole Lotus name debacle, it is annoying, but I am thrilled that this car seems so improved. I am hoping all of the back-markers can show a similar progression, this season will be all the better for it.

    7. This year due to the tyre the cars have to adjust very interestingly.

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