Lotus at Barcelona

First Day

Fairuz took the wheel on the first day. And perhaps his final day of F1 testing for long time to come. The involvement of Malaysian based Lotus team is certainly of a help to Fairuz as normally reserve drivers were only called in when two of the main drivers are unavailable. This is the flaw of the new regulations which prevent teams from testing. As such, young talents or reserve drivers in F1 teams nowadays have no prominent role to play unlike previous years ago.

Fairuz completed 76 laps for Lotus. The program were series of system set up checks, completed first starts and evaluated a number of other control systems on the car, as well as monitoring temperatures and pressures throughout the car. Unlike his first test at Jerez, his car was fitted with power steering. When ask about how much more pace there is in the car he said the Lotus is still far off. However, I notice that the car improved from Jerez and can only get better as the team gets more running. Let me remind the audience of this phenomena is normal in F1. It’s unlike any other series since every car is unique in its own behaviour. So knowledge from any previous formula might be used just as an assumption or theory. The facts has to be established as quick as possible.

11. Fairuz Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth T127 88.002 +6.515

Second Day

Jarno Trulli took the Lotus Cosworth T127 challenger onto the Barcelona track and completed 70 laps. With strong sunshine and dry weather conditions, the Lotus Racing team were again first out on track to begin testing. This is certainly good practice from the team. It shows level of discipline and commitments are high. I congratulate Lotus for this particular attitude. They are lacking in terms of experience, mileage, production capacity but nothing short in terms of spirit. As they say, the right attitude goes a long way.

Lotus were able to identify some problems with the set up in the car and establish clear direction to improve it. Couple of minor hydraulics issues which stopped the car on track, but nothing major as they manage to continue the program. The most important part of any F1 car is to sort out reliability issues and I believe with few gremlins here and there, it only serve as positive learning for the team.

10. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth T127 85.524 +4.91

Third Day

The morning sunshine gave way to grey conditions and light rain in Barcelona as the Lotus Racing T127 completed a successful third day of testing. By lunchtime Jarno Trulli had already completed 60 laps, and went on consistently throughout the day to finish on a total of 102 laps. The team completed a full race distance and were satisfied with the timings and quality of the day’s activity.

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer, commented on today’s test, saying; “Another productive day with Jarno; over a hundred laps completed with no real mechanical issues and Jarno was able to complete the full race distance in the mix of wet and dry weather.

“We successfully completed our whole programme with the changeable conditions and have had two very useful days with Jarno in the car, with a very clear set up direction from him. Now we’re looking forward to further refining the balance of the car with Heikki tomorrow.”

While Gascoyne is quite conservative in response regarding the pace of the car, Jarno was quick to point out that Lotus is not ready to fight the old teams. Not to disappoint or discourage Lotus fan in Malaysia, but I agree with Jarno on this. He further stated, he expects the team to struggle for the first four races. Last weekend Jarno thinks the T127 is about four seconds behind the front runners.

9. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth T127 85.059 +4.373

Fourth Day

Hot weather in Barcelona provided the backdrop for the final day of testing on track for the Lotus Racing team before the 2010 Formula 1TM season kicks off in earnest. Heikki Kovalainen took the Lotus Cosworth T127 for its final session as the test season drew to a close and completed a total of 65 laps in the five month old challenger. After some developmental mechanical and weight balance changes, the team were happy to see yet more improvement in the car’s reliability and pace.

The test has confirmed Lotus Racing’s belief that they have a reliable car, ready for its debut in Bahrain. Consistency and completion of races are the key goals for the first few Grand Prix, until further aero developments – scheduled for the Barcelona GP – allow the team to begin to flex their muscles and really utilise their experience and talents in the season ahead.

While top management seems happy, both drivers are not. Heikki in an interview has admitted that the Lotus T127 is worse than the Minardi he tested more than six years ago. We have to remember, in 2010 with restrictive rules on aerodynamics and engine in particular such big margins in laptime is directly associated with the failure in chassis design and engine integration. I observe Williams pace for analysis. To say that the Cosworth engine is a piece of junk is amounting to closing one eye on facts.

However Lotus is targeting to be the best of new teams. That is achievable. I believe, with more grand prix credits they might just do more.

11 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus T127 85.251 65

Words in the paddock suggested that Lotus purposely design a conservative car with a good base for development. The proof is in the chassis. It’s so simple and looks boxy compared to the rest of the grids. From online resources, it even suggested that the current car was actually first designed without knowing which engine they will use. Perhaps that might explained huge air intakes on car sidepods.

Whatever the case is, I thought Lotus did a great job. Getting a car in five months and proven to last race distance is a fantastic feat already. The conservative way is the right way considering the circumstances. Compared with USF1 and Campos, two that will fail to make the grid this season it tells us that to make the car on the grid is one difficulty, to last race distance is another, and to win it is completely insane.

Until then,

“A defeat is good for the character if you learn it the right way”

Editorial : Mu’az Zakaria
Image Source : Lotus Racing

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