Friday at the Malaysian Grand Prix was an emotional day for everyone in Lotus Racing, with birthdays and a Malaysian first giving the team a very good day of practice at Sepang. It began with a celebration of Chief Technical Officer Mike...
Friday at the Malaysian Grand Prix was an emotional day for everyone in Lotus Racing, with birthdays and a Malaysian first giving the team a very good day of practice at Sepang. It began with a celebration of Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne's birthday in the garage, with the whole team's efforts at singing being led by Team Principal Tony Fernandes, who presented Mike and his partner Silvi, Lotus Racing's Head of Brand, who also celebrated her birthday two days before, with an enormous cake that the team made short work of in the morning heat.
The action on track then began in what is fast becoming Lotus Racing's signature style, with Fairuz Fauzy in chassis T127-01 first out on track trying out a shark fin engine cover in the morning session. Whilst replacing Heikki Kovalainen for the session he completed 19 laps with a best time of 1.40.721 in a good run in the morning heat. Jarno Trulli completed 21 laps and finished ahead of the other new teams on 1.39.460.
Before Fairuz saw the green light Tony leaned into the cockpit to tell Fairuz how proud both he and the whole country was of this landmark moment. After the session was completed Tony said "It's just unbelievable! I woke up at 6am today as I couldn't sleep I was so excited. I'm just really pleased to see Fairuz out there with Jarno and the rest of the household names that make up the grid.
"It's great that F1TM gives the chance for developing teams and developing countries to come to the fore and grab this sort of opportunity. It shows that the combination of British and Malaysian skills can dare to dream of competing on a global level, and can do so in an innovative, fresh way. Fairuz is a lad who has climbed the motorsport ladder - from his local roots at the kart circuit his Father built in Kuala Lumpur, to being on track in F1TM in a car built in the UK and competing all around the world. For me that's a very clear sign of how well our Anglo-Malaysian collaboration is working, and long may that continue."
"I feel very good, very motivated and this is really a special day for me as it's our home run. It's great to be back again. The last time I was in Barcelona, which is a long time ago! I've always said that I'll be ready and fit, but it's still great that I was on the pace immediately. I'm happy and I hope we can do well this weekend - the car feels great, and I think it's faster than it was in Melbourne. It's going to be an exciting weekend - in Malaysia, anything can happen! If it rains and we can get an advantage out of it, then that's good.
"It started off as a difficult day but I managed to do some good setup work and it was a positive two sessions. It seems we are competitive when compared to the other new teams but as we are ultimately aiming to fight with the top teams we are looking to get ourselves into a position where we can work on detailed setups, and that will start from Barcelona. I am pleased that today's sessions, when compared to the previous two races, both went faultlessly and I'm very glad about that. I like the heat - I like racing in the heat as it tests fitness and I've always performed well here, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow and the race on Sunday."
"I'm really pleased with the car - obviously I didn't get much time to practice today, but it felt good and I'm feeling very confident with it. I'm looking forward to the race ahead - I think we're in really good shape. We tried a different set up with my car, and it took a few laps to get into it, but really I was very pleased and happy and looking forward to getting in the car again tomorrow. Weather wise, it is very hot and humid, and it's difficult conditions here, but I'm feeling good and am very fit for the race."
"All round a very successful day. It was good to have Fairuz in the car this morning and he was able to complete his entire program. Heikki took over the car in the afternoon and was also able to finish his planned program - evaluating the tyres and the race pace of the car. We had no mechanical issues on either car and in general I'm very pleased with the progress we're making, so well done to the whole team."
Rounding off the day in Malaysia was Tony Fernandes who said "Great day - we did everything we wanted to do and I'm extremely pleased. We're getting better and better so let's hope we continue this tomorrow in qualifying. We are being realistic though - points aren't in my mind. I just want to finish the race, get both cars home and keep our feet on the ground. Of course I'm still dreaming - I put Colin Chapman's cap on the pit wall to remind everyone of what we're aspiring to, but we'll get there in the right way, and the dream continues."