Kovalainen buoyant over Team Lotus F1 progress
Heikki Kovalainen was brimming with optimism after Team Lotus completed their pre-season testing ahead of the new Formula One campaign.
After a mixed Thursday at the final test session in Barcelona, Friday's final day saw the Hingham outfit complete 138 laps and leave the Finnish driver buoyant as Team Lotus aim to race with the midfield pack in their second season, which starts in Melbourne on March 27.
'That is obviously a fantastic end to the tests,' said Kovalainen. 'Completing a double race distance has given us the chance to make a lot of progress on track.
'I'm not only pleased with the mileage we've done today, I'm also pleased with the pace we've shown. It's too early to make predictions but I think we'll go to Melbourne and have a good chance to taking the step forward we want to. A good day!'
The Norfolk team also confirmed Luiz Razia as their reserve driver for 2011, with Davide Valsecchi as test driver – both will get a chance to drive the T128 during free practice sessions this season, while Ricardo Teixeira will also continuing his development at Hingham.
The announcement confirms popular Indian driver Karun Chandhok's much hoped for move to Team Lotus did not materialise, despite winter-long speculation.
Elsewhere on the F1 grid, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso clocked 141 laps in Barcelona as the Ferrari 150o continued to prove its reliability – while the same could not be said for McLaren, as Jenson Button was limited to 57 laps after an enforced engine change in the morning.
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Mercedes topped the day's time sheets through Michael Schumacher, as an upgrade to their 2011 challenger seemed to deliver the desired results.
Saturday's final day will be completed by the teams who have only taken part in three of the four previous sessions: Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and HRT – who will give the F111 its first outing following Friday's unveiling.
• Barcelona, fourth pre-season test – day four fastest times (all unofficial): 1 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 1 min 21.268 sec, 2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:21.614, 3 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:21.788, 4 Nick Heidfeld (Lotus Renault) 1:22.073, 5 Rubens Barrichello (Williams) 1:22.233, 6 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 1:22.315, 7 Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) 1:22.675, 8 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:22.933, 9 Heikki Kovalainen (Team Lotus) 1:23.437, 10 Paul Di Resta (Force India) 1:23.653, 11 Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1:23.921, 12 Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1:24.108, 13 Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:25.837, 14 Jerome d'Ambrosio (Virgin) 1:27.375.