Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Team Season Review: Lotus

Still no points but it was an improvement for Lotus in 2011.

Drivers: Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Karun Chandhok
Best Finish: 13th (Australia, Monaco, Italy)
Best Qualifying Result: 15th (Spain)
Points: 0
Constructor's Championship: 10th

Team Lotus took a big step towards the midfield of the pack in 2011, and dominated the other two new teams, Hispania and Virgin. Also, they managed to get into Q2 twice, in Spain and Belgium. Spain was the teams strongest weekend, with Technical Director Mike Gascoyne predicting ahead of the weekend that it was their best chance of points in the season, and it was, with Heikki Kovalainen qualifying an excellent fifteenth. Despite not scoring points in 2011, they got reasonably close in Australia, Monaco and Italy, where they finished thirteenth on all three occasions. Karun Chandhok was their test driver, and drove in the German Grand Prix, but was disappointed not to take part in the Indian Grand Prix, whereas his compatriot Narain Karthikeyan did for Hispania. Late on in the year, Team Lotus announced that they would be changing their name in 2012, to Caterham.

Best Finish: 13th (Italy)
Points: 0
Driver's Championship: 22nd

Kovalainen in action at Monaco
In 2011, Kovalainen established himself well as the team leader at Lotus, with strong performances throughout the year. His first finish of the season was at Malaysia, where he was fifteenth. He got sixteenth at China, and nineteenth at Turkey. The Lotus car looked very good at Spain, after Kovalainen qualified a brilliant fifteenth, but unfortunately he crashed out. At Monaco he was fourteenth, before poor reliability meant he retired in three of the next five races. He recorded an excellent thirteenth at Monza, before a fourteenth at Korea. His best performance was at India, where he was running as high as ninth at one point on a clever strategy, before he finished fourteenth. I think Kovalainen had an excellent season at Lotus, really getting everything out of the car, and pretty much always being the best of the six new cars in qualifying.

Best Finish: 13th (Australia, Monaco)
Points: 0
Driver's Championship: 21st

Trulli on his way to retirement in Malaysia

Trulli encountered another difficult season, with the Italian complaining on numerous occasions about the performance of his power steering. He started the season well, with a thirteenth at the season opener in Australia, before a retirement at Malaysia. He finished eighteenth at both Turkey and Spain, where the Lotus seemed at its most competitive. Trulli equalled his best ever Lotus result with thirteenth at Monaco, but had a difficult race at Canada, where he was beaten by both Hispania’s and Virgin’s. Trulli didn’t race in Germany, as Karun Chandhok was called up to take part. However, he drove in all of the remaining races, finishing fourteenth at both Belgium and Italy, where he announced he was staying with Lotus for the 2012 season. Trulli raced at India, where Chandhok was expected to, however, the Italian had a tough race, with contact at the start. It was a disappointing year for Trulli, who was outqualified and outraced by Heikki Kovalainen on most occasions.

Best Finish: 20th (Germany)
Points: 0
Driver's Championship: 28th


Chandhok's only race of 2011, Germany.

The Indian driver hadn’t raced in the latter half of 2010, and was pleased when Team Lotus picked him up as a reserve driver. Chandhok took part in the first practice session for the season opening Australian Grand Prix, but made a mistake and crashed out on his installation lap. He drove in a further three practice sessions during the year before been called up to race in the German Grand Prix, replacing Jarno Trulli. He qualified in 21st, less than a second behind his team mate Heikki Kovalainen. A collision with Nick Heidfeld on the first lap ruined his race though, and he was to finish 20th and last. Chandhok was disappointed not to be called up to race in his home race, the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

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