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 KovalainenJarno Trulli
Qualifying position1920
Qualifying time comparison (Q1)1’37.894 (-0.424)1’38.318
Race position1619
Pit stops22

Lotus drivers’ lap times throughout the race:


Heikki Kovalainen116.493108.117107.549106.457106.802106.184105.893107.248107.219106.702106.117106.744106.661106.456106.115107.934107.139107.053111.202123.719105.5105.207104.48104.685104.858104.133104.271103.826104.035104.113104.197103.718104.232104.619103.979104.321104.437104.837104.716108.564121.812103.654103.065102.71102.672102.917105.099104.629103.2103.456103.31105.169103.297102.817103.685
Jarno Trulli116.772108.569107.305107.046106.578106.457105.987107.159108.318107.207107.241106.692106.394106.409106.868107.178106.711107.742107.29113.515124.368104.704104.407104.532104.407105.69104.251104.008104.135104.141104.082104.118104.255104.28104.799104.815104.868105.594105.649105.273105.47111.61123.764104.164104.889104.384102.636105.721103.358102.857105.234102.311102.052102.776103.134
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

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    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.