Whether you think they have completed 500 races or 9, there is no denying that Lotus have made the biggest leap to the midfield after building a brand new car from scratch. Their consistently fast rate of development means that, as it stands, they are well poised to be racing with Williams and Toro Rosso by the end of the season.
Lotus have had the highest rate of development in the field, and should be battling in the midfield soon
Despite all of this though, it wasn’t without difficulty. At the season opener in Bahrain, the slight shortcomings of the car were revealed, when the glass of the wing mirrors fell off. Regardless of this, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli qualified well, 5 seconds off the pace of pole sitter Sebastian Vettel. In the race, while all HRT and Virgin cars retired, Lotus acheived a double finish on their debut.
Since then, they have proven themselves the fastest of the new teams in terms of raw pace. In the last 8 races, a Lotus driver has been the fastest of the new teams 7 times in qualifying. Their reliability has been very good also, suffering only 6 retirements so far this season, 2 less than HRT, and 1 more than Virgin. On the other hand, one driver has failed to start a race because of a car failure twice, once in Australia and once in Spain.
Aside from this, they have consistently outperformed both HRT and Virgin in races also. In the 9 races so far, a Lotus driver has finished the highest out of the 6 drivers 5 times. Because they have recorded only 1 double finish so far, it is impossible to compare performances by the drivers, Trulli and Kovalainen. However, it is possible, by using low-fuel qualifying times, to show that Jarno Trulli has been ahead of Kovalainen more, but only just, as he is leading 5-4 against Heikki.
As well as this, their car has been developed well to stay ahead of Virgin and HRT. In Bahrain, they were 5 seconds slower than Red Bull. Now, halfway through their first season, they are only 2.3 seconds off the pole position time, an amazing achievement.
So, with a competent driver line-up, an ever-improving car, and plenty of Malaysian finance to keep the team running, it is safe to say that Lotus will continue to be the best of the new teams, and begin to contend for position with the midfield soon.