Lotus sure they can move up the field

Michael BaileyThe only way is up, according to Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. The Norfolk marque made a hugely satisfying return from its 16-year absence from Formula One two weeks ago, with both drivers finishing the first grand prix of the season in Bahrain - including the bonus of Heikki Kovalainen finishing above one of the established teams, in Toro Rosso.Michael Bailey

The only way is up, according to Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.

The Norfolk marque made a hugely satisfying return from its 16-year absence from Formula One two weeks ago, with both drivers finishing the first grand prix of the season in Bahrain - including the bonus of Heikki Kovalainen finishing above one of the established teams, in Toro Rosso.

The challenge in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix is to prove it was no fluke, and Gascoyne is looking forward to it.

"What we did the other week in Bahrain is only the start," said Gascoyne. "We did what it says on the tin - we turned up, worked professionally and showed we were ready for the job.


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"Most important was finishing the event and proving some reliability.

"Now we have to make another step and improve the car, go quicker and start to show we can improve and pass the teams that are currently ahead of us.

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"Tony (Fernandes, team principal) deserved the result in Bahrain for sticking his neck out for this team - but he is going to have more to smile about soon."

With the second of four flyaway races coming in Melbourne, planned upgrades to the aerodynamics of the Lotus car will have to wait until before the first European grand prix of the season, round five in Barcelona on May 9.

As well as improving the car's downforce, Lotus are also aiming to replace the T127's current gearbox with one of their own by July - to avoid its unreliability.

The Hingham outfit, along with this season's two other new Formula One teams, is using UK-based XTrac's complete transmission system in its cars.

However, Lotus' Finnish driver Kovalainen said Lotus is working on implementing its own hydraulic system "some time in July".

Amid claims the XTrac system is unreliable and not up to date, Kovalainen added: "I think it's absolutely the right way to go if we are to have full control over our car's hydraulics."

Spanish team HRT also runs the complete transmission, while Virgin racing specified its own gearbox casing from the Newbury manufacturer.

HRT boss Colin Kolles has confirmed the Spanish team has been working long hours with XTrac since its failure to finish the season opener in Bahrain earlier this month, with reports upgrades to the hydraulic system will be implemented in Melbourne this weekend.

Virgin reiterated its own poor performance in the desert was due to hydraulic and transmission problems that blighted its debut.

The team's technical boss Nick Wirth said: "We have some new parts which we hope will provide a robust solution to the new hydraulic problem and transmission issue we experienced in Bahrain."

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