Spirits are high as Lotus Racing turns to China and the final race before the European season kicks off in Spain. The team is again focusing on reliability and the challenge of seeing both cars cross the finish line before its first major performance upgrade is unveiled in Barcelona.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes on seeing Lotus Racing on track for the first time in China: “I’m delighted we’ve arrived in China and can’t wait to see the fans’ reaction to us here. It’s an honour to be in Shanghai as China is the home of the new world and has been a very important market for AirAsia, so it’s somewhere I’m always excited about coming to. We are thrilled that we are bringing Lotus Racing, a uniquely Asian – British team, to the Shanghai Grand Prix, particularly as we have a number of people within the team with Chinese heritage who are very proud to see our team here for the first time. I know the whole team will work hard to put on a good show on and off track, and I hope that this demonstrates that we can provide a very good platform for universities, commercial partners and future drivers across China to work with a team whose heart beats close to our Asian home.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne’s thoughts turned to the challenges Shanghai will present, saying; “It’s just a couple of weeks since Malaysia and the last of the early season fly-away races so we’re focusing on getting both cars across the finish line here before we turn our attention to the upgrade package we have planned for Barcelona. The guys back at the factory have worked very hard on the parts we sent back, and have done a great job to turn around everything in time and get it sent back out here. Our car’s race pace has been good so far, and I think we’ll see that again in Shanghai – it’s a technical circuit that will bring out the best in both our drivers, and I think their experience will see us build on the solid start we’ve had so far.”
Heikki Kovalainen is a big fan of China, and is looking forward to the all aspects of the race: “I feel really good coming into the Chinese Grand Prix – I’ve had a few days of solid training and a bit of golf since leaving Malaysia and I love coming to China. We have some great fans out here – they wait at the hotel all night just to get an autograph and always give us really good presents to take home. Last year some girls took a taxi and followed us to the hotel with a Finnish flag hanging out the window all the way! The country has great food and a deep culture; every time I come here I see something new.
“The Shanghai track itself is a good challenge for the drivers. The two straights both provide overtaking opportunities and there are some nice high speed sections. The hospitality area has a fantastic atmosphere and it looks like nowhere else on the calendar, so all in all I’m very excited about being out here.”
Jarno Trulli agreed, saying; “China’s one of my favourite races on the calendar – I’ve not had the best luck at the track over the years, but I like it as it rewards a well balanced car and encourages you to push hard, particularly in the high speed corners. We’ve proved we have good reliability in the car so I’m looking forward to bringing it home and giving the Chinese fans something new to cheer for. The fans here are great – they’re very passionate and I’ve always had great support here, and now with Lotus Racing they have a British team with an Asian core to cheer for so I’m expecting even more support over the whole race weekend.”
[press release from Lotus Racing]