Kovalainen happy Lotus are on track

Michael BaileyFinnish driver Heikki Kovalainen believes Lotus Racing are starting to deliver on some of its potential after Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. The Hingham-based team ended a difficult run of results with a 16th place for Kovalainen in Montreal - noticeably ahead of Vitaly Petrov's Renault.Michael Bailey

Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen believes Lotus Racing are starting to deliver on some of its potential after Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

The Hingham-based team ended a difficult run of results with a 16th place for Kovalainen in Montreal - noticeably ahead of Vitaly Petrov's Renault.

More reliability issues saw the race of Kovalainen's Lotus team-mate, Jarno Trulli, cruise to an end on lap 42 preventing the Norfolk marque from completing its number one aim from the weekend - getting both cars to the chequered flag.

However, Kovalainen feels buoyed by his weekend's racing, which also included him closing in on making Q2 in Saturday's qualifying for the first time.


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'It's been a great weekend, and I'm really pleased for the whole team with the result today,' said Kovalainen. 'We finished ahead of Petrov and lapped the other new guys, and although it was hard work managing the tyres, it's still great to show what we can do.

'The race itself was tough, but it's all about the result - I didn't have any technical problems with the car, but the rear wasn't working quite as I'd have liked, and I think that was down to the tyre wear.'

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Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne shared in the optimism. He said: 'I think this weekend has been a massive step forward for the whole team. Rather than being just one of the new teams, we actually got stuck in and raced the teams ahead, which is what we wanted to do.

'So congratulations and thank you to the whole team for getting us to this position. In the end we lapped both of the other new teams, so it was a great effort.'

Once again it was Trulli who suffered the lion's share of bad luck, with earlier problems reducing his track time during free practice before a brake system issue ended his race.

'It's such a shame I had to pull over - I had a great start and then I was really flying during the race,' said the veteran Italian. 'We got the strategy right on the tyres, and my pace was good - I was keeping up with the boys in front, and I was overtaking our other rivals.

'But then I felt a vibration that caused a problem with the braking system and I had to pull over. Still - we have to move on.

'It's another learning curve for the team and I think it's great to see that in the race I could really push and was putting in some very good lap times.'

Gascoyne added: 'The one disappointment was obviously Jarno's problem - we will have to look at it in more detail, but it looks as though the vibration put paid to his race. Before he pulled over he was absolutely flying and the strategy would have really paid out for him, so that's a plus.

'Heikki drove a fantastic race, fighting all the way with the guys in front, and kept it up right to the end to keep Petrov behind him.'

Next up for Lotus is the European Grand Prix, in Valencia in a fortnight's time.

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