Lotus aim for scalps and points

Reuters - Mon, 15 Mar 15:50:00 2010

Lotus are setting their sights on shaking up the Formula One establishment after finishing the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as best of the new teams.

2010 Tests Jerez Lotus Kovalainen - 0

"This is a great start. We've done the first massive step, we've now got to take some more," technical director Mike Gascoyne said after Finland's Heikki Kovalainen finished 15th and Italian Jarno Trulli 17th on Sunday.

"For us, it's not about the new teams," he added. "It's now about looking at Toro Rosso or Sauber. They are the ones we've got to look at, close the gap and go racing."

Gascoyne said the target, for a Malaysian-run team that in a former incarnation ranked as one of the sport's great marques before their demise in 1994, had to be to score some points by the end of the season.

Both Saubers retired with hydraulics problems on Sunday while Kovalainen also finished ahead of Toro Rosso's Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi.

Lotus were the last of the three all-new teams to secure their place in Formula One and their car was built with reliability a priority. Neither Virgin Racing nor Hispania (HRT) came close to seeing the chequered flag at Sakhir.

Gascoyne said there was plenty of weight to take out of it and big updates were planned for the first race of the European season in Spain in May.

"We are pushing forward now," he said. "We had to do so much just to be here and compromise so much. Now it's about moving forward from the base we've got, so we'll attack it."

Malaysian team owner Tony Fernandes, an aviation entrepreneur who has a personal challenge going with Virgin owner Richard Branson over who will have the best team by season's end, was keeping the brakes on however.

"We've got to keep to what we said," he said. "The main thing was to finish all the races, keep learning and keep developing.

"If we can move up the grid great, but that's not the objective for this year," added the AirAsia owner.

"I've always said the key thing, and I've kept telling Mike and the shareholders and everyone involved in Lotus, is this is not about trying to do things quicker than we can. It's about building a really solid structure.

"We are going to be here for a long time, so there's no point putting up a rickety house that will fall apart in two years," he said.


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