October 16, 2011 (F1plus Team).- Team Lotus has its reasons to be happy. First, both cars finished the raced without being lapped, something that has been a constant during the season. Second, and more importantly, Heikki Kovalainen was able to end the race ahead of both Sauber.
Everything started in a good a way and it showed that maybe something encouraging was going to happen, since Heikki just out of the lights passed Barrichello, Senna and Perez. Better then, he was able to keep that formation for several laps.
The Finn eventually finished in 14th place, ahead of the struggling Saubers. His teammate Jarno Trulli ended on 17th.
“After the fantastic performance last weekend in Japan, this is another big step forward for us,” said the former Renault and McLaren driver. “Finishing 14th today, ahead of both Saubers and within touching distance of Senna on the final lap is for sure our strongest ever race and it’s a great feeling for me and the whole team to see us fighting with a big group of cars right from the very first lap.
“I had another amazing start, passing a bunch of cars into Turn 1 and making it look like they were all in reverse; from there I had a good first stint on the Options (Super Soft compound tyres), managing to look after them well enough to stay out for an extra couple of laps that really helped in the first stop.
“We went onto the Primes (harder, Soft compound tyres) and my pace on them was just fantastic, good enough to help me match the times of the cars ahead right up to about tenth. The second set of Primes we put on were exactly the same – the wear rates were totally manageable and I could really push on every lap. We knew there were a few cars ahead who would struggle to get to the end and, if I’d had another half a lap, I would have passed Senna for sure.
“As it was, we finished ahead of both Saubers on pace and strategy and that’s a very good feeling. We’ve been strong all weekend and it’s great for the whole team that we’re heading towards the end of the season with a car that is giving us a chance to really show what we can do. Honestly, I’d like to get straight back in now and do it all over again – now I can’t wait for India!”