03 April 2010
SEPANG: Lotus boss Tony Fernandes was left struggling for words on Saturday after seeing Heikki Kovalainen secure 15th place on the grid for the team's "home" Malaysian Grand Prix.
Fernandes said he was delighted to see the Finn go through to Q2 on a day of tropical thunderstorms -- so happy that he was almost unable to speak.
"I'm speechless! What a day. To get 15th place in our home country, in front of our home crowd is amazing. I'm over the moon and just so excited," said the founder of budget airline AirAsia.
"We gave the Toro Rossos a run for their money today and Jarno (Trulli) was just unfortunate to get blocked, otherwise he'd have been in Q2 as well.
"Tomorrow's another day, and we'll see what happens, but it's a good step forward. We'll enjoy it, and we'll live for the day, and we'll see what happens."
Kovalainen was equally pleased.
"I really like these conditions. It's very hard to judge your speed and you really have to take some risks, and all the time you're feeling like you might lose the car, but that's the challenge and I love it!," he said.
"Although we were lucky, we played our strategy just right.
"If you look at the McLarens and Ferraris, they didn't think it was going to rain that much and look what happened. They missed their window at the beginning of the session and we took full advantage of it."
Technical boss Mike Gascoyne added: "Well done to the whole team, this is special for Tony and I know how proud he feels."
The Lotus operation is backed by Malaysian money and led by Fernandes, himself a Malaysian.