Lotus: Both cars finish on the lead lap

2011 Japanese GP team review

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Both Lotus cars finished the race on the lead lap, which hasn’t happened since the first F1 race at Suzuka in 1987.

Heikki KovalainenJarno Trulli
Qualifying position1819
Qualifying time comparison (Q1)1’35.454 (-0.06)1’35.514
Race position1819
Pit stops33

Lotus drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):


Heikki Kovalainen110.69105.23103.738103.432103.728103.229103.924103.543104.007106.569121.271102.094104.603102.098101.984101.995101.819102.124102.155102.142102.959104.633119.934125.676119.001101.404138.318103.953103.76101.168100.819101.117100.725101.274101.135102.211104.279120.147100.099100.2699.75899.89899.543100.171100.03899.7499.907100.15499.85899.29799.83199.552100.257
Jarno Trulli112.466105.032103.983103.545103.678104.127104.678103.66104.833104.979106.808120.354109.733103.005102.133102.894102.547102.22102.326102.17102.657102.664102.739129.864132.303105.086123.566102.723103.48101.857101.332100.908100.868101.231101.202103.145101.887104.262118.43799.98899.76999.676100.15100.1199.918100.04799.90599.74799.56199.937101.018101.423102.936

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen Lotus, Suzuka, 2011
Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 21.412s
Pit stop 2Soft 21.519s
Pit stop 3Medium 22.532s

Kovalainen’s rapid getaway took the team by surprise: “I made an incredible start, no wheelspin, the perfect clutch slip and was suddenly past a load of cars and up into 14th.

“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!'”

Kovalainen launched his car down the inside along the pit wall and picked up four places – particularly impressive for a driver in a car that doesn’t have KERS.

Both the Williams drivers came past him on lap two and Sergio Perez did likewise on lap seven.

Nico Rosberg was the next driver on Kovalainen’s tail but surprisingly the Mercedes driver didn’t find a way past before Kovalainen made his first pit stop on lap ten.

Kovalainen came out of the pits back ahead of Pastor Maldonado, but lost the position when he made his second stop on lap 22.

By his final stint the other midfield runners had jumped ahead of him via the pits, but his pace compared favourably with Rubens Barrichello, who was also running on medium tyres.

Heikki Kovalainen 2011 form guide

Jarno Trulli

Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 21.636s
Pit stop 2Soft 22.233s
Pit stop 3Medium 22.156s

Trulli was unable to use Lotus’s new-specification power steering system at Suzuka. In its place the team supplied a revised system based on the one he last used in Hungary. However he lost time within an electrical problem in the second practice session.

After qualifying behind Kovalainen by a narrow margin he gained a place at the start then passed Sergio Perez, who was on the medium compound tyres.

Perez came back past the Lotus on lap six, followed by Nico Rosberg the next time by.

Trulli and Kovalainen were on the point of being lapped when the safety car came out on lap 24 and spared them. This helped both drivers to finish on the lead lap, though without the safety car they would likely have been a lap and a half in arrears.

Jarno Trulli 2011 form guide

Karun Chandhok

Drove Heikki Kovalainen’s car in first practice.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Image © Team Lotus

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    Keith Collantine
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    14 comments on “Lotus: Both cars finish on the lead lap”

    1. I think this just show how slow the general race pace ws, rather than the Lotus’ being actually quick….

      1. jeez, I need a new keyboard…..

      2. @UncleBob Being a fan, I’d like to believe in the latter, but I do believe it helps that Button slowed down after the safety car went in.

      3. Since the safetycar came out at about halftime they had a good chance to stay on the lead lap. Still respectable that they actually did it.

        1. good point…. but for once, imho, the tyres spoiled the race…. god i’m hard to please :)

    2. Trulli wasn’t able to use power-steering!

      Again! I thought he got a new power steering and was happy with it..

      I have lost count of what has happened most during this season, Trulli moaning about power steering, Hamilton getting a penalty or Massa moaning about Hamilton.

      1. Wasn’t able to use is very different from not liking.

        It sounds like the power steering isn’t that easy to implement.
        I hope this team can gain another second next year, I really do. But the closer they get, the harder it gets.

        1. @Mike Indeed. You can forgive Trulli for being a little heated about the situation, given just how fundamental and relatively basic power-steering is!

        2. I don’t understand why Heikki’s works and Jarno’s doesn’t. I expect Jarno to beat Heikki more often, both in qualifying and in the race, since his power steering was fixed.

    3. Good result for Lotus but a pity they couldn’t nick one of the Williams. To finish on the lead lap is impressive, albeit with a Safety Car. There have been Safety Car’s in the past where they haven’t been able to do that so it’s all relative I guess!

      I didn’t see Kovalainen’s start, shall have to try and find it.

    4. Looks like this team is really making steady progress. Lets hope they keep that up and can take it a step further next year.

    5. How is it possible for this team along with HRT and Virgin to be so far off the pace??? I find it hard to believe that sponsors are willing to support the results of these not so good teams. Watch out Williams your almost on that shortlist.

      1. It’s not easy to build an F1 team from scratch and this is only their second year. I think I read somewhere that in building their car for this season Lotus has used about 60 per cent of the wind tunnel time that the mid field teams have typically had. You can’t expect them to be competitive against teams that have much better resources.

        But now they’ve made an agreement that they can use the Williams wind tunnel along with the Aerolab facility that they’re currently using. So next year should be much better for them. Let’s hope it really is. :)

    6. This Lotus have a great future,I can see this team progress through the field like Force India.

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