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12 May 2010

Monaco Grand Prix preview

Itís tight, itís bumpy and itís a major challenge for the drivers and the teams, but the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the worldís greatest sporting events, and Lotus Racing is confident of putting on a very good show at a venue where much of the Lotus history was created. Looking ahead to the weekendís action are team drivers Jarno Trulli, a Monaco winner in 2004, and Heikki Kovalainen, with Team Manager Graham Watson giving insight into the logistical problems Monaco presents, Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne providing insights from the pitwall, and Team Principal Tony Fernandes discussing his first Monaco race at the head of an F1ô team.

Graham Watson: ďThe challenge really begins as soon as the Spanish Grand Prix finishes as we have to pack up everything there and then get it all over to Monaco in time to try and finish setting up by Tuesday night. We have some very experienced truckies and mechanics in the team, who know their way around the confines of the Monaco paddock, and that definitely helps us make sure we can meet all our engineering deadlines, and have the cars ready to go out on track on Thursday morning. We may be one of the new teams, and we definitely donít have as much equipment yet as some of the more established names, but weíre still able to pack in everything we need to cope with any eventuality over the weekend, including a composite and fabrication workshop on site, which hopefully wonít be needed, but with the nature of Monaco in mind, are necessities here.Ē

Mike Gascoyne: "Monaco is obviously a unique place. I enjoy walking around as you realise what a mad place it is to race cars! Engineering wise itís a major challenge Ė itís very bumpy with lots of slow corners and qualifying is critical as itís almost impossible to overtake, but I still love it! We should do ok here - weíre good in the slow speed sectors and both our guys are experienced in dealing with the bumps and the traffic, particularly Jarno whose win here was very special, so all in all Iím looking forward to it.Ē

Jarno Trulli: ďItís something very special in Monaco. Whether youíre driving or just walking around, you can almost breathe in how exciting it is. Every driver in the world wants to win here, and I was lucky enough to do so in í04, but the whole experience can be tough Ė itís important for us to concentrate on the race, and here youíre under so much pressure it can be difficult to get the time to think, and concentrate on the actual race, but thatís how it is, so we deal with it.

ďGetting in a good lap is also a challenge, but if you can manage the traffic itís very satisfying. One of the most important parts of the circuit is through the swimming pool Ė you change direction at high speed, then brake for the next chicane, which is slow but you still need to get through it quickly. You jump over the kerbs there, not too much or you launch yourself into the wall, but just enough to carry the speed through. Thatís why concetration levels are important Ė get that right every time and youíre ok Ė if not, youíre out.Ē

Heikki Kovalainen: ďI obviously didnít get the chance in Barcelona to build on the step forward we took with the updates so Iím looking forward to getting back on track and pushing on. Itís so busy on track in Monaco thereís no time to relax, and there are no run off areas so you pay heavily for any little mistakes, but I really like street circuits as they reward good car control, and I think weíll be pretty good here from how the car felt in Spain. Iíve managed to get a round of golf in with Tony since we left Barcelona, and itís probably not fair to say how he got onÖ but generally itíll be good to get out on track again and keep up the momentum weíve had all year.Ē

Tony Fernandes : ďIíve been coming to Monaco ever since AirAsia first came into the sport as a sponsor, and itís somewhere I love coming to. Itíll be great being here with Lotus Racing Ė pretty emotional as Lotus has so much history here. Itíll be a special moment for me and a huge amount of fans to see the green and yellow on track again, so I canít wait for Thursday and to see the cars out there at whatís almost their third home race!Ē