Mike Gascoyne happy with Team Lotus’ Malaysia F1 weekend

The Malaysian Grand Prix may not have been Team Lotus' best classified result since the Hingham outfit joined the Formula One grid, but Mike Gascoyne believes it was their strongest performance.

The Norfolk constructor made a difficult start to their second season in Melbourne, after winter testing had offered signs of encouragement.

But around Sepang the Norfolk marque made a noticeable step in qualifying – finishing only half a second behind the midfield teams – before Heikki Kovalainen gave the Toro Rossos a run for their money in the final laps in Kuala Lumpur on his way to a 15th place finish.

Team-mate Jarno Trulli was less fortunate, seeing a clutch problem end his race on lap 32, running just behind the Finn.

Chief technical officer Gascoyne said: 'A very strong race from both drivers, although unfortunately Jarno stopped in the garage with a clutch sensor problem.

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'Overall our pace was very good at the end, particularly when we were with the leading cars, and we were very close to passing one of the Torro Rossos as we came over the line which shows how we have progressed.

'This weekend has been by far our strongest race performance since we came back into Formula One, so it is good to be racing again.'

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Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel made it two from two for the season in his Red Bull, ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren and the Group Lotus-backed Renault of Nick Heidfeld in third – the Hethel-connected constructor's second successive podium.

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber took the fastest lap honours and fourth place, while Lewis Hamilton could only manage eighth – not helped by a post race penalty for his tussle with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso (sixth).

Fellow Brit Paul di Resta earned a second points finish from only his second race in F1 by coming home 10th.

The action moves quickly to China for the coming weekend, with round three in Shanghai.

Kovalainen added: 'That was a pretty good race all round. The balance was good on both sets of tyres and I think the strategy worked well for us – we pitted at the right times and we didn't have any problems all afternoon.

'I think we can be pleased that after a difficult Friday (practice) we showed the sort of performance that the winter tests had given us hope we could do, so now it's about continuing development of the car and keeping up the pressure on the guys ahead.

'China will be a good test of how the car behaves in cooler conditions so the goal will be to repeat this kind of performance there and keep on pushing.'

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