Heikki Kovalainen is optimistic that he can try to get among some of the established midfield teams at the start of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix – and the Lotus driver says he will do his utmost to stay ahead if he manages to do so.
The Finn was the fastest qualifier among the new teams' drivers today, taking 19th on the grid ahead of team-mate Jarno Trulli and the Virgins. Although still 2sec off the pace of 18th-placed Vitaly Petrov's Renault, Kovalainen says his aim for the race is not just to beat his fellow newcomers, but to give the established squads a fright.
"If I have a chance to attack at the start tomorrow, I'll have a go," he told AUTOSPORT. "There are a few cars ahead of me that if I can get a good start I'll try to get ahead of, and then I'll fight if possible. Otherwise, to get both cars to the finish I think will be great for the team. I'll try to carry on where I finished in Bahrain, try to start tomorrow with the same performance I had in the last stint there, and chip away."
Despite Melbourne often seeing carnage and a small number of finishes, Kovalainen thinks Lotus's chances of points are highly remote even if he does have a reliable run to the end.
"I'm not really thinking about points, to be honest," he insisted. "The cars are more reliable than they were a few years ago. Obviously, this is a place where it's possible to expect anything – the safety car's been out here the last few years quite regularly. Strategies and accidents can happen, and everything can be messed up. I'll just try to react to everything accordingly, and otherwise just put our heads down from the first corner, try to drive our own race, do the maximum and not lose any time."
He also denied that the forecast showers could play into Lotus's hands, as he thinks slippery conditions will exacerbate his car's shortcomings rather than levelling the playing field.
"I think the rain might make it worse," Kovalainen admitted. "The less downforce you have, the more difficult it is to warm up the tires and get them working, and if you don't warm up the tires into a window where they work, you might lose more time.
"I hope it's dry, but if it's wet then it's wet and we'll see what happens. Anything can happen then, but my feeling is it won't be easier [for Lotus] in the wet, I think."