Team Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli enjoyed an uninterrupted day’s running in their new Lotus T128 at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit, having successfully fixed the power steering issues that hampered its running during the Trulli exits the garage for a run in the Lotus T128‘open’ test session at the Spanish circuit earlier this week.

The Malaysian-owned team elected to forego the opening day of the test session in favour of having a private test at the circuit overnight, and their fastest times were good enough for 19th and 20th fastest in the overall timing from the three days’ running on the circuit.

“We have been able to start looking at the balance of the car in much more detail and I’ve had the same feeling that I did on day one,” Kovalainen is quoted after the test session.

“I think we have a good car for this year and as we continue to work on it here and at the other pre-season tests we can put some proper mileage on it without the reliability worries we had last year.”

The Finnish driver was particularly impressed – despite the team not actually concentrating on set-up work at all – with the improved handling the T128 demonstrates in comparison with its predecessor.

“One of the most tangible improvements from last year is the lower centre of gravity we have this year,” he continued. “It’s a smaller chassis and we can place ballast under it much more effectively, which means the whole car feels balanced in a way we didn’t experience last year.

“Now, I can turn in without having to constantly correct oversteer or understeer and as the whole rear end has been designed with the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox in mind, it is aerodynamically much more efficient. It’s basically a very good platform for us to develop, and to be able to feel that immediately is a very positive sign for me and the whole team for the season ahead.”

Team-mate Trulli was equally effusive about his new car, and reiterated his confidence that the T128 would be a midfield contender.

“We completed 91 laps with basically no problems and we’ve been able to start to get a feel for the car which was really what this test was about,” he said.

“It feels like we have a good car to work on in the next few tests and I think that we can pretty quickly get it to a point where it will give us a chance to fight with the teams ahead.

“The next test is only a few days away but I think there will be a lot more to come there in performance terms, and it will be good to get back in the car in Jerez and get more mileage under our belts.”

Valencia Pre-Season Test (Private Session) Lap Times:

  Driver   Team Time
1. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 1:15.679
2. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 0.231

[Original image via Team Lotus]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.