Lotus aim to be 'unique'
Lotus Racing boss Tony Fernandes feels he has succeeded in creating a team far different to any other in Formula One. Fernandes wore a smile as broad as the proverbial Cheshire cat in the wake of the Norfolk-based team's performance in Bahrain 10 days ago after a 16-year absence.
Lotus Racing boss Tony Fernandes feels he has succeeded in creating a team far different to any other in Formula One.
Fernandes wore a smile as broad as the proverbial Cheshire cat in the wake of the Norfolk-based team's performance in Bahrain 10 days ago after a 16-year absence.
Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were classified 15th and 17th, sandwiching the more established Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi.
Although Trulli suffered a hydraulic failure late on that forced him to pull over to the side of the Sakhir circuit, for Fernandes it was a dream beginning.
The owner of the AirAsia airline believes the result was down to the infrastructure and team ethos he has established.
"I wanted to build something in Formula One that is unique," Fernandes said of a team that only started out six months ago.
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"I wanted to change the atmosphere in a Formula One team, to bring more humility, more equality so everyone feels a part of the team and puts in that little bit extra.
"My skill set is bringing the best out of people, so you have to enjoy what you're doing, really believe in what you're doing, and you have to have passion, commitment and great teamwork.
"There's a very flat structure at Lotus. There's not much hierarchy and we keep an environment where everyone can excel, can push that extra mile.
"I think we've succeeded in doing that. Our performance in Bahrain was a fantastic achievement when you think six months ago we didn't even have a single part."
In many respects, expectations were exceeded in Fernandes' eyes as all he asked for was for his cars to finish.
Beyond that, Lotus finished ahead of the other new teams Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing, and even at times managed to keep pace with the other marques.
Outperforming fellow airline boss Sir Richard Branson, whose cars completed just two and 16 laps with Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock at the helm respectively, was of particular satisfaction.
"I was sick as a dog when they outqualified us," added Fernandes.
"But I picked myself up, told myself it was not about qualifying, that it was about finishing the race.
"But this season is not just about Virgin, it's about improving and challenging some of the more established teams, so let's see where we go from here."
Fernandes, though, is determined neither he nor anyone else in the team will get carried away ahead of this week's second round in Australia, followed by their home race in Malaysia a week later.
"I still keep with our targets. We have to be realistic because what happened in Bahrain is not going to change our plans," insisted Fernandes.
"We're focused on building this year - consistency, stability. It's not about trying to get a podium or points, although of course that is what we'd love to do.
"So we won't move away from our strategy of a major upgrade in Barcelona, with just some minor upgrades between now and then.
"We just need to keep improving reliability and keep on learning."