Lotus: Kovalainen joins in midfield battle

2011 Chinese GP team review

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Lotus became the first ‘second year’ team to beat an established team in a straight fight.

Heikki Kovalainen Jarno Trulli
Qualifying position 19 20
Qualifying time comparison (Q1) 1’37.894 (-0.424) 1’38.318
Race position 16 19
Laps 55/56 55/56
Pit stops 2 2

Lotus drivers’ lap times throughout the race:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Heikki Kovalainen 116.493 108.117 107.549 106.457 106.802 106.184 105.893 107.248 107.219 106.702 106.117 106.744 106.661 106.456 106.115 107.934 107.139 107.053 111.202 123.719 105.5 105.207 104.48 104.685 104.858 104.133 104.271 103.826 104.035 104.113 104.197 103.718 104.232 104.619 103.979 104.321 104.437 104.837 104.716 108.564 121.812 103.654 103.065 102.71 102.672 102.917 105.099 104.629 103.2 103.456 103.31 105.169 103.297 102.817 103.685
Jarno Trulli 116.772 108.569 107.305 107.046 106.578 106.457 105.987 107.159 108.318 107.207 107.241 106.692 106.394 106.409 106.868 107.178 106.711 107.742 107.29 113.515 124.368 104.704 104.407 104.532 104.407 105.69 104.251 104.008 104.135 104.141 104.082 104.118 104.255 104.28 104.799 104.815 104.868 105.594 105.649 105.273 105.47 111.61 123.764 104.164 104.889 104.384 102.636 105.721 103.358 102.857 105.234 102.311 102.052 102.776 103.134
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Shanghai, 2011

Heikki Kovalainen

In the cool conditions of qualifying Kovalainen was over a second and a half slower than the Williamses.

But in warmer temperatures on race day Lotus proved able to compete with other established teams on merit for the first time ever.

Kovalainen’s two-stop strategy got him ahead of Pastor Maldonado and he finished the race in front of the Williams and the delayed Sauber of Sergio Perez.

Kovalainen described it as “our best ever performance.

“It’s not the highest place we’ve had but today we beat two midfield cars in a straight fight so I am very happy, with my performance and the performance of the whole team.

“We knew we would struggle in the cool conditions yesterday but today the temperatures rose and we expected to be able to put in the sort of race that would do justice to the pace that is in the car.”

Heikki Kovalainen 2011 form guide

Jarno Trulli

Continues to have problems with tyre degradation. Qualified behind Kovalainen and finished in 19th.

Luiz Razia

Drove in Trulli’s place in first practice. Damaged his front wing following what the team described as a “suspension problem”.

Jarno Trulli 2011 form guide

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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    Image © Team Lotus

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    34 comments on “Lotus: Kovalainen joins in midfield battle”

    1. Kovalainen’s two-stop strategy got him ahead of Pastor Maldonado and he finished the race in front of the Williams and the delayed Sauber of Sergio Perez.

      Thank you for that. Not really joining the midfield looking at circumstances. A wrong strategy from Williams (running twice on primes) and penalties imposed on the Sauber made the so called “joining”, not the performance.

      1. It’s all part of the game, strategies, penalties, car performance.
        I agree that Lotus is not quite there yet, but they ‘re definitely on the right track. And don’t forget that both Sauber and Williams are large and experienced outfits.

        1. plus they are not running KERS.

      2. Well you say that, but lap times were comparable. Supposedly, Trulli’s quickest time in the race yesterday was ahead of Alonso’s, in a Ferrari. Now, you dont need to be a hardcore fan to appreciate that a feat such as that isnt half bad.

        Perhaps in Barcalona Lotus may join the fray in Q2 when they expect to make a big jump forward with an upgrade package.

        Massive congratulations on Lotus and Heikki, 16th out of 23 cars running at the finish. I would say that qualifies the claim that they are midfield team, finishing in the middle of the pack

      3. At least a small team like Lotus can be happy to have developed a better strategy than Ferrari.

      4. I’m just a fan of taking facts for what they are, not for somebody wishes them to be. It wasn’t “a straight fight with midfield teams”, not yet.

      5. Doing well in F1 is not just about car performance. It’s about strategic performance and driver performance too. This was a straight fight.

    2. I don’t think you can blame the tyre-strategy for Williams’ dismal performance. Lotus was just quicker in the race, or the Lotus was more “tyre-friendly”.

      1. You are right, in both cases, Lotus then did the better job with Kovalainen than Williams did with Maldonado.

        1. No, not really. Maldonado was running on primes for about half of the race, 3 stops. Heikki not even a third, 2 stops. Do the math. Even the Red Bulls were easy targets on primes, so I think Keith is totally right about strategy giving Kovalainen the upper hand over Maldonado. 2 stop strategy or one sting on primes instead of two would have put Maldonado out of Heikki’s reach.

          1. *sting, not sting :)

            (Keith, I beg you, EDIT button!)

            1. god d****…. stint, S T I N T.

            2. Hahaha! That made me laugh :-D

    3. Kovalainen really is one of my favourite drivers now, i mean, you would expect him to be all down and out going from McLaren to Backmarker. But he really seems to like this new team and i really wish he stays with them for a long time, bringing them to the top! :)

      1. well I guess the strength of his team mate in them two teams makes the difference.

    4. great to see Team Lotus improve race by race. You can’t forget they built this team from scratch just a year ago and they do seem to have a decent package this year that in the right circumstances could bag them a few points this year. Kovalainen is absolutely driving his heart out for them as well. Trulli is disappointing though, should probably look to replace him with someone more eager next year.

    5. Trulli could eeeasily be replaced and no one would ever notice.

      1. He’s not so bad

    6. Keith I love your analysis of Lotus: Kov: 6 paragraphs, your Truli analysis: Truli turned up, was rubbish! Made me giggle!

    7. Trulli is a lucky man.
      Lucky to have a seat.

      1. and relatively competitive car. Look at his old mate in Virgin.

        1. 14 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:42.052
          15 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.070
          16 9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:42.406
          17 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:42.577
          18 15 P. di Resta Force India 1:42.614
          19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:42.672

          Fastest laps in China
          not so bad Trulli…

    8. Keith

      on Lotus, would they be able to secure a Renault KERS package at all?

      Mike mentioned earlier in the season that it was more to do with packaging than cost, but I dont know if they’d be able to recieve either package

      1. If i’m not wrong, few weeks ago tony said Team Lotus will not use KERS this year.

        1. If I was them I would keep away from it this year. Concentrate on getting everything else right this year. Based on this weekends performance they don’t wanna push their luck!

    9. Looking rather good for them. I really hope they become as successful as Red Bull in the future.

    10. Fantastic stuff from Lotus, really happy for them. Now…can they keep it up?

    11. Credit where credits due, Lotus did really well, I’m chuffed for them. Strategy and penalties are all part of the sport – get it wrong and you deserve to be punished – so Kovaleinen got his great result on merit for me :)

    12. i’m watching mike gascoyne on the bbc forum, and they’re celebrating “racing the midfield.” how are 16th and 19th racing the midfield? it’s the lowest 25% of the field. who did they beat? the only non-finisher, hrt and virgin, and 2 rookies. trulli’s fastest lap was faster than alonso’s. whippedy-doo.

    13. I think it is about time Trulli retires to his vineyard. Lotus should promote one of their test drivers to gain experience. Obviously, Heikki is still motivated and can lead in car development.
      Points will be tough to come by but not impossible.

      1. hmm there test drivers have been poor I seem to remember… Get Davison out the commentary box

    14. Good to see the team keeping up the steady rising line. Trulli does seem, once again, getting a bit long in the tooth though. I have noticed there isn’t even the qualifying speciality that keeps him usually ahead of kovalainen, and though his lack of results is oddly enhanced by ongoing bad luck, even without that he doesn’t really seem to be delivering as much as his team mate. Certainly in PR, he does the worse job, I think (but maybe I’m not reading all the good Italian PR he does …).

    15. maybe the Hulk will come in place of Trulli?

    16. Lucas "Mr. Veloce"
      20th April 2011, 15:25

      I am still not sure about these third driver’s in P1, maybe they should not put the third driver in for the first race P1 but from the second race onwards, in Team Lotus’ case, if Trulli finishes behind Kovalainen, he’ll get kicked out for P1 in the next race and vice versa.

    Comments are closed.