Trulli to get new chassis, as Lotus aim to fight midfield pack

Jarno Trulli will be given a new chassis ahead of the European Grand Prix in Valencia – but only after seeking assurances that team-mate Heikki Kovalainen would not feel that the Italian was being favoured.

Lotus had scheduled to give the upgrade to Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia. However, after struggling with balance issues, it was thought that Trulli was the more approriate candidate.

“Jarno has been pretty unhappy with the balance of his car and has been struggling,” Technical chief Mike Gascoyne told Autosport. “We have a new chassis scheduled to come for Valencia, and that was due to go to Heikki.

“But, because of Jarno’s troubles, I made the call to change it to him. But Jarno, when he was told, said, ‘No, I don’t want Heikki to feel that I am being favoured, please feel free to give it to Heikki.’

“So I went up to Heikki and told him. Then he said, ‘No, Jarno is struggling, give it to him!’

“It’s a situation that sums up the great feeling within the team – that they are both trying to help each other. In the end we are going to give it to Jarno, but the two drivers are open to swapping it around afterwards.”

After an encouraging weekend in Canada, Gascoyne believes that Lotus are now hot on the heels of the sport’s established midfield teams. However, the Englishman concedes that the Norfolk-based outfit will not be able to do this at every race weekend.

“From the whole of the Canada weekend, the message is that it is time we stopped looking at being the best of the new teams and looking behind us,” he said.

“This is now about trying to outqualify a Sauber – trying to race the Williams and the Renault cars. It is about being a midfield team not just the best of the new boys. I think that is the statement we have made this weekend.”

“I would say in reality we are probably seven or eight tenths away from them [the established teams], and the Silverstone upgrade might bring us half a second closer. Will we nick places off people consistently? Probably not, but with the two drivers we have got, with their experience – if anyone drops the ball or doesn’t get the right lap then I think we can start nicking some odd places.

“What we said at the start of the year was that we wanted to end up challenging the back end of the midfield group and I think that is exactly where we will be. You would like to be beating them, but in reality that was always going to be too much of a step, especially as we are concentrating on next year’s car now.

“But I think we will still end up exactly where we said we would be. We had one employee this time a year ago, so for the performance we did in Canada everyone in the team can hold their head up. It is a statement from the new teams – you can come in and do a hell of a good job and be racing, and I think that is very good news for F1.”

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