Real work starting now for Lotus F1
Michael BaileyThe honeymoon period is approaching its end for Hingham-based Lotus, according to team principal Tony Fernandes. The Norfolk marque's return to Formula One has seen its 2010 car, the T127, built in just five months by a team set up in the same time.Michael Bailey
The honeymoon period is approaching its end for Hingham-based Lotus, according to team principal Tony Fernandes.
The Norfolk marque's return to Formula One has seen its 2010 car, the T127, built in just five months by a team set up in the same time.
Lotus made their public track debut in Jerez last week for the penultimate four-day test session, and they have another four days of experimenting in Spain from tomorrow - this time Barcelona.
The first grand prix of the season, in Bahrain, is little more than a fortnight away with Lotus set to be on solid ground.
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The T127 has completed more laps than fellow new boys Virgin Racing in only half the testing days, although it is still unclear how quick the Lotus car - to be driven in 2010 by Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli - will be. But with improvements to the car set for the fifth race of the season - the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona - it means keeping competitive in the meantime will be the aim for Fernandes, chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne and the rest of the team at Hingham.
Fernandes said: 'I think the honeymoon period is ending because people forget very soon that it only took five months to put this car up. When you get on the track they don't care, it's how you perform.
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'So yes, the pressure is building but we've always made our goals realistic - finish the races and try and do something good for Barcelona, and then we'll run from there. Reliability is great. I think the drivers would like a bit more downforce but these things are going to take a bit of time.
'I think on the long lap sessions we were keeping pace with some of the best cars out there, so we'll tweak the brakes and do some things.
'It was only our first test and we're getting on to the wind tunnel boys, so let's see where we get up to. We have some upgrades for Bahrain but really the major upgrade will be for Barcelona.'
The four day test in Jerez saw Lotus some way behind the established teams, while Kovalainen managed to crash the car in his first day behind the wheel - but there is plenty to be positive about for Fernandes.
He said: 'I thought it was fantastic; the drivers did great, we had calamities, we had excitement - but the key takeaway for me is we had a reliable car, we had a good platform to build on and we had phenomenal team spirit.
'You always see the strength of a team if something goes wrong and that's the making of a team, because when things are going right that's the easy part.
'When things are going wrong, that's when you separate the men from the boys and I think the camaraderie and the willingness to be the best is there. It's in our hands to go out there and deliver the potential we think we have got.'
Lotus' factory was officially opened by former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir, on Monday before the F1 team hosted the Duke of York yesterday.