Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Melbourne, 2011

Lotus not on terms with midfield yet

2011 Australian GP team review

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Lotus added Renault engines and Red Bull suspension over the winter and entertained hopes of racing in the midfield in 2011.

But their hopes were dashed in qualifying where they were two seconds behind the midfield pack.

Heikki KovalainenJarno Trulli
Qualifying position1920
Qualifying time comparison (Q1)1’29.254 (-0.088)1’29.342
Race position13
Pit stops12


Heikki Kovalainen112.88398.25297.37896.62897.44196.51296.10796.39196.35296.2495.90796.49896.28695.52795.92195.237120.199101.78294.918
Jarno Trulli114.11399.87598.45597.28997.23597.58697.1897.73197.25897.2196.70396.67997.01297.70497.24118.768104.59696.98295.81995.85799.72595.03395.91397.09795.12394.43694.10596.98498.90594.6494.64894.52494.26994.24997.56997.048118.787107.88997.75394.79993.69897.70793.99393.12396.3193.27793.23294.45296.71293.02992.81692.5593.22896.50293.41594.704
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Melbourne, 2011
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Melbourne, 2011

Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen was unable to use his DRS in qualifying as the wing stuck in its high downforce position. Despite that he qualified ahead of Trulli, two seconds off Nick Heidfeld’s Renault.

In the race by lap ten he was around four seconds behind Sergio Perez, who was running on hard tyres. But shortly afterwards Kovalainen was sidelined by a water leak, a common problem for the team in pre-season testing.

Jarno Trulli

Trulli was very unhappy with the Pirelli tyres, telling La Repubblica they were “as if they have been changed since the last tests in Barcelona”.

He had difficulty getting the tyres up to temperature and was out-qualified by his team mate.

He started the race on hard tyres and lost around a second per lap to Kovalainen, on softs, in the first stint. Trulli ended the race over 100 seconds behind the next car.

Karun Chandhok

Made his first appearance of 2011 in first practice but only got as far as turn three before losing control of the car and crashing. He admitted it was his fault afterwards.

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Pirelli

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Keith Collantine
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29 comments on “Lotus not on terms with midfield yet”

  1. I think Trulli was the only one really complaining aloud. All other drivers said the tyres did suprise them by lasting a lot better than in testing, but not as bluntly as Trulli.
    He must have felt even more miffed than Mark Webber. The qualifying master himself soundly beaten by a teammate with his DRS not working!

    Fernandes tweeted about the team getting their radiators right next time round.

    1. Trulli had problems of his own during qualifying. His power steering wasn’t working properly.

  2. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard Jarno whingeing over the years, I’d have retired by now(I’m mid 30s).

    Surely the tyres were the same for Heiki? And Heiki didnt have DRS for quali.

    I think Lotus will be fine, but I can’t see Jarno being there next year. The renault/redbull back end is good. They just need to get sorted on their reliability issues.

    1. I can’t see Jarno being there at the end of this year – let alone next year. Chandhok will be in the seat soon… as long as he can keep it out of the wall…

      1. please no chandhok. he is overrated. davide valsecchi look good.

        1. How could Chand Hok be overrated?

      2. Bear in mind, though, that part of Trulli’s bad performance is that he didn’t get to run in P1 (Chandhok took his car and crashed it) and missed out parts of P2.

        He’s actually being a good team player in not even bringing this up! But yes, I could see Trulli being the Liuzzi of this year — missing out on practice time definitely does not help.

  3. I’ve never liked Jarno Trulli, him and Rubens are just a bunch of old, boring whingers. F1 needs new, exciting blood. Especially in the teams that aren’t running up front.

    1. Actually, I think Lotus could really benefit from Jarno’s experience. On a Saturday he can be a master at setting the car up and really nailing a lap so they need that more than an untried rookie.

  4. As predicted, they are dead slow :P

  5. Trulli has a history of complaining. Tired to hear it again, frankly.

    As far as Lotus is concerned, I’ve said everything in previous comments. Someone’s mouth was writing checks that couldn’t be cashed. Now people are disappointed with what in reality is a solid progress. That’s sad.

    1. Agree that they sounded far too ambitious too soon. They can’t just bang on a new gearbox and engine etc. and then claim they’ll embarrass the established teams. It’s a long term project and with the people they have I’m sure they can build up to the front but their statements are going to lead to quite a few disappointed fans who will have held them to their word and expected them to have leaped forward to the midfield and not just still be the best of the newbies.

    2. Yes they did exaggerate, but still they have more speed than what they showed. They still haven’t managed to setup their car very well and both drivers had problems during qualifying.
      Heiki managing ti keep up with Perez shows promise.
      Also i expect they can find quite a lot of time with upgrades because they aren’t as close to the limit as other teams. This car is the basic structure for more development.
      I see it as very possible to be able to fight with Toro Rosso and Force India after the first half of the year. Of course that will depend on how good they manage to develop also but if it’s similar to last year then they can catch them.

      1. I wouldn’t count on them out-developing the midfield teams. They still have less resources and much less experience comparing to the midfield teams. I’d rather expect them drift further away from Toro Rosso and Sauber. Force India may just maintain the advantage.

  6. Interesting that Kovalainen was considerably quicker until he broke down; about their pace, how much was the DRS worth again? .4s – I guess they still are some way off, but still a bit closer than last year.

    1. eh, right hard vs. soft, so they were pretty equal then.

  7. not sure how long patients their sponsors will have, it’s very likely they lose some sponsors to other teams if they can’t get their act together. And if HRT upsets Lotus & Virgin… then their future is doomed.

    1. Since most of their sponsors are Fernandes’ own companies, I doubt that will happen. CNN maybe. I think they’ll show a bit more pace in Sepang as long as they can get the DRS working for Heikki and get heat in the tires (which should be easier for everyone with Sepang temperatures).

  8. UNeedAFinn2Win
    28th March 2011, 18:36

    They WERE behind by 2 seconds in pre-season so I don’t understand the negativity.

    It should be easy not to pass judgment until the season gets underway proper, 4-5 races in when the major upgrades are introduced.

    Their goal this season is to reach A points finish (Heikki has said it in an interview), singular.

    Soo, that’s what, 18 to go ?

    1. In testing they were two seconds behind the leading pace, not the car in 17th in q1. That is why there is negativity.

  9. maybe the negativity is cause the team said they will like to race with Toro Rosso & Sauber. high expectations from the team which got the RBR gear-box & hydraulics. and a Renault engine.

    1. Yeah but they also said that they will race them later in the year not from the first race. People just got excited and didn’t notice that little detail. Also Toro Rosso managed a little of a surprise of a car, Sauber is good too. Right now Force India is their first target.

      1. I think TL simply forgot that everyone else is also making progress and nobody will sit there and wait for them to catch up.

  10. HAHHAAHAHHA i’m not laughing at the team but at the people who thought they could touch Sauber-Ferrari lol, and they won’t touch them anytime soon they aren’t standing still they are top 6 now.

  11. Guess it’s a mixture of things; talking up their chances for their sponsors’ benefit; blind self belief; the need to be heard with the Renault Lotus problems…. It’s very early days both in the season and with the team itself – look how awful Williams were when they first started. This season will be a learning curve for them. Time will tell just how steep a curve that’s going to be.

  12. I really expected them to be as fast as the Torro Rosso but they really disppointed me. They still have a good future given the instruments they are using & the people on board just need to carry out the good work.

  13. They are yet to unlock the true potential of the car. Although it probably won’t jump straight into the midfield, I believe ther is still some speed untapped in that car.

    DRS doesn’t give more than a few tenths on a circuit wit such short straights. Considering Trulli’s lack of tyre temperature, he would have been better off not even using the DRS during qualifying

  14. I agree they’ve still got to work out a good setup, and work out how to get the best out of the T128. However I think their performance has been one of the noticeable disappointments of the year :(

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