So far the new Lotus T127’s first test has been going pretty well. The reliability seems to be there and it was only the enthusiasm of driver Heikki Kovalainen that cut short their Thursday session at Jerez, after he spun the car into the barriers. With no spare nose available, Kovalainen was forced to wait until Friday to return to the track, but that didn’t dampen the Finn’s mood when it came to the T127’s prospects…
Q: Heikki, what caused your excursion into the gravel this morning? Was something wrong with the car? Heikki Kovalainen: Nope, nothing wrong with the car. It was my mistake. Came out of turn two to turn three and went on the power too aggressively - lost the rear and tried to correct it, went into the gravel and into the wall. I missed the nose!
Q: Was the car in good shape? On the lap prior to going off weren’t you already spinning? HK: No there was nothing on the car. I was on intermediates and pushing more and more - probably at one point too much.
Q: How do you see the potential of the car? HK: I think the potential is there, the initial feeling from this morning was good. In the slow-speed corners the car is behaving quite well, but it’s lacking grip - it hasn’t got enough grip - so in the high-speed (corners) we lose quite a bit of time, probably also partly because of the set-up problems as well. But fundamentally it is okay and I quite enjoyed driving it.
Q: You’ve previously driven for experienced teams, so it must be quite new to you having teamed up with an outfit starting from scratch. What is different and what is your impression? HK: The biggest difference is the size of the team. Otherwise all the operations feel pretty much the same - the engineers, the mechanics, they are all working very much in a similar way - but we haven’t got enough time to prepare in all aspects. We don’t have enough spare parts for example. But that will come with time and for sure we will be able to improve the car and get quicker as a result.
Q: Having joined a smaller team do you think you have more chance to make a difference? HK: No, not really. I would say that is all the same. Probably bigger teams can react quicker as they have the resources to do so. But we have all the people that we need - as I said it needs just a bit of time.
Q: Were you surprised to see the car being so reliable on its first day? HK: Yes, I was. Day one was much better than we had anticipated. (Chief technical officer) Mike (Gascoyne) always said that the car should be quite strong, probably not the quickest initially, but that it should be fine. There are always ups and downs but the bottom line should be okay - and we all feel that it is. We had some small problems at the shake-down in the UK and those that we had today were not physical problems but little issues with the installation. It was related to the power steering - there was air trapped in there but once we’ve got that out everything worked well after some tries in the garage and after some short running. As I said before, a pure installation problem and after that everything was solid.
Q: Have you been able to do some meaningful test programs? HK: Well, first of all I think that mileage would be the most important thing but yes, we have been able to get some stuff done regarding engine mapping and we were able to improve the electronics already. So I think that we’ve got something out of today and hopefully tomorrow we can continue. Mileage is the most important thing in our situation to track down problems and eliminate them - otherwise we might get them in Bahrain.
Q: Last year you were racing with arguably the best engine on the grid. How do you feel about the Cosworth engine? HK: Quite positive. In terms of pure power it’s not too far away, it’s probably not quite as good, but overall the feeling is quite positive. And the drivability felt very competitive as well compared to the Mercedes. The power is in slightly different areas, but I feel at the moment it is one of the stronger parts of the car.
Q: How do you think your relationship with Jarno Trulli will be? HK: We are fine so far. We are on the same level so we know what we are talking about and I am sure that we can push the team forward, as he’s also quick and very competitive. We will also push each other and that’s always good that there is somebody to keep you awake. I think it is a strong line-up - I think it is a potentially good team and I think we will do a good job.
Q: So what is your program for Friday? HK: 170 laps. I only did 30 today so I have to catch up! F1.com
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