Encouraging signs for Team Lotus as McLaren reveal 2011 car

Hingham-based Team Lotus put to bed their opening 2011 test with an encouraging day in Valencia on Friday.

Tony Fernandes' outfit had the Ricardo Tormo circuit to themselves for the day, having missed Tuesday's opening session, and were able to complete 91 laps around the Spanish circuit – complete with their fixed power steering system that curtailed their track time earlier in the week.

'An extremely productive day,' said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. 'Both drivers managed to get a good feel for the car and the tyres. We weren't able to do any set up work – that will wait for Jerez (testing, February 10-13) – but it was an excellent day and we achieved the main goal of completing a decent mileage.'

The Norfolk constructor outfit completed an hour of filming the T128 before getting into the serious testing, with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli both getting extended spells behind the wheel after Ricardo Teixeira got his first taste of a Formula One car to help with the early filming.

'We have a car that was ready to go with everyone else at the first test and to be able to run today without any problems is great,' said Kovalainen.

'I've had the same feeling that I did on day one – I think we have a good car for this year and as we continue to work on it here and at the other pre-season tests we can put some proper mileage on it without the reliability worries we had last year.

'On the car itself one of the most tangible improvements from last year is the lower centre of gravity we have this year.

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'It's a smaller chassis and we can place ballast under it much more effectively, which means the whole car feels balanced in a way we didn't experience last year.

'Now, I can turn in without having to constantly correct oversteer or understeer and as the whole rear end has been designed with the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox in mind, it is aerodynamically much more efficient.

'It's basically a very good platform for us to develop, and to be able to feel that immediately is a very positive sign for me and the whole team for the season ahead.'

Trulli added: 'It was a great day for the whole team. We have been able to start to get a feel for the car, which was really what this test was about.

'I agree with Heikki about the balance – it feels like we have a good car to work on in the next few tests and I think that we can pretty quickly get it to a point where it will give us a chance to fight with the teams ahead.

'The next test is only a few days away but I think there will be a lot more to come there in performance terms, and it will be good to get back in the car in Jerez and get more mileage under our belts.'

Most of Formula One's eyes were focused on Berlin, where championship hopefuls McLaren unveiled the MP4-26 – a car they hope will return them to silverware this season.

British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were on hand as the car was build in front of its German audience, revealing a sleek chassis and plenty to intrigue fans – including innovative L-shaped sidepods.

However, the car also contained several 'plastic' parts to ensure `the Woking team's other innovations are kept secret ahead of the second four day pre-season test, which starts in Jerez on Thursday.