Team Lotus hope Japan offers a repeat performance
Tony Fernandes is hoping Japan will be kind to Team Lotus for a second successive season as the Norfolk marque aim to close out their big end-of-season pay day.
Finishing 10th in the constructors' championship – effectively ahead of 2010's two other new teams – would hand the Hingham outfit the last remaining slice of 2011's Formula One revenue pie.
The position was effectively secured with a handy pair of high finishes from Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen in Japan last season – and Fernandes is hoping for a repeat performance.
'Last year Japan was our best race of the season – we finished 12th and 13th and essentially wrapped up our little battle for the title of fastest new team in Formula One – so it is a race and a country we hold very dear.
'I said after Singapore that grand prix was just about our strongest ever race performance, and having been through the post-race reports it is very pleasing to see that our pace has definitely improved as a direct result of the upgrade package we brought out there.
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'Jarno suffered again with bad luck, but the reliability issue that ended his race is still something we need to improve on – we may be small and we may not have the facilities of the teams ahead of us, but that does not mean our standards should be any lower than them.
'So we have to make sure in Japan, and at the remaining races, that we are a two car team that can help us guarantee 10th place this year. That is a reasonable aim and one everyone in the team is working very hard to achieve.'
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Singapore brought some encouraging signs and the Norfolk constructor's Norwich-born chief technical office Mike Gascoyne believes Team Lotus can go even better in Suzuka than their 16th-place finish with Kovalainen around Marina Bay.
'Suzuka is without doubt one of the classic F1 destinations…the circuit is very quick, it puts a lot of demands on the tyres and the cars need to have very good high-speed stability.
'Pirelli are bringing the medium and soft compound tyres and as the circuit predominantly affects the cars' lateral grip I think we will see degradation playing an even more pronounced role in Japan than the rest of the season.
'With the small step forward we saw from our new aero package in Singapore I think we can use that and a bit of clever tyre strategy to take the fight again to the cars ahead, and if we can get qualifying right we have proved we can mix it in the races in midfield.
'So that has to be the aim again for the race – make sure both cars see the chequered flag and be there when it counts to take advantage of what happens around us.'