Lotus hoping for a happy anniversary
Team principal Tony Fernandes will be back on the Lotus Racing pit wall for the Italian Grand Prix – and he has high hopes for a good weekend.
Race day will see the Hingham-based team mark its first anniversary since gaining a 2010 Formula One grid place, and after two fruitful free practice sessions yesterday, Fernandes cannot wait for today's qualifying session and tomorrow's main event around a high speed Monza circuit.
'It's really good to be back with the team after a few races where I've been watching away from the track,' said Fernandes. 'We started out with a bit of pressure, having to make some changes early on in the session, but that's what we're about – trying something and not being afraid to do so...as both drivers were happy with the car it's been a good day.
'Sitting on the pit wall it suddenly clicked for me that we're one year on since we received the letter from Max (Mosley) confirming our entry. We've talked about it a lot, but it's real – we are now 14 races into the Lotus Racing story, and we're here to stay.'
Jarno Trulli topped team-mate Heikki Kovalainen during practice on home soil, and the Italian veteran is confident the T127 will come home ahead of this season's other two new teams – HRT and Virgin Racing – on what is the final European round of the campaign.
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He said: 'First of all it's great to be back home for the first time with Lotus Racing. We've had a fantastic reception here, and even though Monza hasn't been particularly lucky for me, it felt great to be out on track. Obviously we'd like to pull away a bit more from the guys behind us, and I think with some more work we'll be looking good for qualifying and Sunday.'
Kovalainen added: The car feels good on both low and high fuel loads. It obviously moves around a bit more in the low downforce settings, but it's the same for everyone and I think our top speed is where it should be, so I think we're looking pretty good for the whole weekend.'
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Red Bull Racing head into this weekend's race in a far stronger position than perhaps expected after Sebastian Vettel emerged quickest at the end of yesterday's practice.
Coming into the race, all within Red Bull expressed concerns that the low downforce, high-speed nature of Monza would not suit their cars.
It was anticipated this weekend would be one of damage limitation with regard to their championship hopes, only for Vettel's display to offer up hope they could yet be in contention for victory. There was a point in the second session when it appeared as if the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were head and shoulders above their rivals.
Although separated by just 0.056secs, as they ultimately finished the 90-minute programme, they were over seven tenths of a second clear of their nearest challenger in Fernando Alonso. But in the space of a matter of minutes they were deposed from their one-two positions, first by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, then Alonso and finally by Vettel.
The British pairing were forced to settle for the fourth and fifth quickest times, 0.315secs and 0.376secs respectively behind Vettel, whose hot lap was a 1:22.839secs.
Vettel is eager to atone for his recent mistakes in Hungary and Belgium which have cast him 31 points adrift of leader Hamilton.