Team Lotus Secure Gold in Korea
Korean Grand Prix
Team Lotus came into the race knowing they could take the Teams Championship. Practice saw heavy rain, and mistakes by many of the new cars happened in the soaking track.
Qualifying is getting quite boring now. As expected, Heikki Kovalainen qualified in 19th ahead of his team mate Jarno Trulli. Behind them was Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio, while Vitantonio Liuzzi managed to outqualify Daniel Ricciardo, purely on the basis that a technical issue meant that the Australian didn’t set a lap time.
In this week’s ‘not really a surprise anymore’ Kovalainen made a fine start, managing to overtake a few cars from the start once again, but this time, it wasn’t to last long and was quickly passed again. But in more surprising starts, Ricciardo jumped from 24th to 21st, ahead of Glock, D’Ambrosio and Liuzzi. Glock found his way past, but the other two struggled behind him. Liuzzi soon had contact with the Belgian, and was forced to pit on the first lap for repairs.
All of this resulted in a damaged front wing for D’Ambrosio later in the race, and was forced into making an unscheduled pitstop. The other pitstops mainly went without a hitch, but Daniel Ricciardo ended up with a fine at the end of the race for an unsafe release.
Kovalainen though was doing well, and managed to, along with Trulli, stay close to Kobayashi and Senna after contact between the two slowed the Sauber down, and was eventually forced to stop. The Safety Car came, and no one was really able to challenge.
It was a far better race for Timo Glock however, who managed to be a lot closer to the Team Lotus cars after Japan. At one point an actual overtake between two different cars occurred, when Jarno Trulli used DRS down the long straight. I was actually quite excited when that happened.
Ricciardo was showing up Liuzzi too, while D’Ambrosio spun off and struggled behind him, in a poor weekend for the Belgian. But it was Kovalainen who took the spotlight, finishing ahead of both Saubers (who lacked pace and made one extra stop than most drivers), and only two seconds down on Bruno Senna, who had similar problems. Jarno Trulli’s second place saw Team Lotus become Team Champions.
|1||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||14th||10|
|2||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||17th||6|
|3||Timo Glock||Marussia Virgin||18th||4|
|5||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Marussia Virgin||20th||2|
Heikki Kovalainen (14th – Team Lotus) : “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!”
Vitantonio Liuzzi (21st – Hispania) : “We had pretty good pace during the first stint but the safety car came out at the worst time possible, just as the leaders had lapped me, so I was a lap down with respect to my main rivals. The race was very difficult after that and the balance was all over the place, it was really hard to drive. But with all those problems we endured, we still made it to the checkered flag which is a positive thing”
It’s now four in a row for Kovalainen who is starting to walk away with it, now a rather large 15 points ahead with three races left. The gap between Glock and D’Ambrosio extends to four points, while it will be interesting to see if Ricciardo can close the gap further to Liuzzi.
|1||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||98|
|2||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||83|
|3||Timo Glock||Marussia Virgin||64|
|4||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Marussia Virgin||60|
|8||Karun Chandhok||Team Lotus||2|
One year after taking the 2010 Teams Championship in Korea, they win the 2011 version at the same venue. They are 64 points ahead, with the maximum Virgin can take being 48. Virgin have also secured second place, being 58 points ahead of Hispania, basically meaning this is pretty much pointless for the rest of the season.
There is technically no ‘form’ to be applied to India’s new track, the first time Formula 1 will visit the circuit near to New Dehli. Based on recent races, it’s Kovalainen’s to throw away, four wins in a row is a joint record with himself, after he won the last four races of the 2010 season as well.
Liuzzi really needs to up his game, he hasn’t beaten Ricciardo since Belgium, when the Australian retired, and has actually only out raced him twice. He isn’t showing anyone why he should be in the Hispania next year, especially as he barely brings any money to the team.
It is important to remember that because we are heading to India, Narain Karthikeyan, and presumably Karun Chandhok, will return to the cockpits for Hispania and Team Lotus respectively. As of now it isn’t clear who they will replace, but I am hoping its Liuzzi and Kovalainen, although no doubt it will be more like Ricciardo and Trulli.
This time out its the Driver Championship which is up for grabs. Kovalainen can win the title in India should he score more than five points than his team mate, Trulli. So he can win by:
- Kovalainen finishing 1st, Trulli finishing 3rd
- Kovalainen finishing 2nd, Trulli finishing 6th, because of Kovalainen’s far superior win ratio, winning 8 times to Trulli’s 4, which can not be caught by the Italian with three rounds to go
All of this does depend on who Chandhok, if he does, replaces. Should it be Kovalainen, then the title fight goes to Abu Dhabi, should it be Trulli, all Kovalainen has to do is finish in the top two, which would secure him the title without an opponent to fight in the final round. The recent form of Kovalainen suggests it could be easy ride for him.