KUALA LUMPUR: Lotus Racing wrapped up their Barcelona pre-season testing sessions on Sunday on an upbeat note bolstered by the belief that the car will be ready for its debut in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.
Consistency and completion of races will be the key goals for the first few Grands Prix until further aerodynamic developments, which are scheduled by the time the field lines up in Barcelona in late April for the start of the European races.
The new updates will allow the team to begin to flex their muscles and really utilise their experience and talents in the season ahead.
The hot weather in Barcelona provided the backdrop for the final day of testing before the 2010 F1 season kicks off in the second week of this month.
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 mechanical and weight balance changes, the team were happy to see yet more improvement in the car’s reliability and pace.
Lotus have had only two weeks in which to get their first F1 challenger, the T127, up to scratch and chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said the test runs over the weekend had been extremely productive overall.
“It was a game of two halves as they say, we had a good morning where we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which meant we weren’t able to do as much running as we wanted.
“In general, we had very good reliability and the team are in very good shape going to the first race.
“Considering the length of time we had to work on the project, it’s a fantastic effort from the whole team.
“Everyone has worked exceptionally hard over the two tests and we now have to work on the pace of the car and improve that, but it’s been a tremendous effort from the whole team and I’m very proud of them.”
Lotus announced their comeback to F1 on Sept 15 and are one of four completely new teams entering the sport this season.
The others are Virgin Racing, US F1 and Campos.
Lewis Hamilton topped the times on the last session on Sunday.
The British McLaren driver, champion in 2008, clocked a fastest lap of 1:20.472, the quickest time of any driver over the four days in Barcelona.
He edged out Red Bull’s Australian driver Mark Webber and Felipe Massa, Ferrari’s Brazilian ace back from last year’s season-ending horror injury at Monza.
Comeback king Michael Schumacher, the seven-time former champion, came in sixth in the Mercedes.
Less than half a second covered the first eight drivers to underline the closeness of the top teams in terms of competitiveness.
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:20.472 (134 laps), 2. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 0.024 behind (61 laps), 3. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 0.067 (114 laps), 4. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 0.139 (100 laps), 5. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 0.195 (76 laps),
6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 0.273 (123 laps), 7. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) 0.398 (84 laps), 8. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 0.439 (67 laps), 9. Sebastian Buemi (Toro Rosso) 1.663 (88 laps), 10. Robert Kubica (Renault) 2.703 (107 laps), 11. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) 4.779 (65 laps), 12. Lucas Di Grassi (Virgin) 5.688 (49 laps).