Jarno Trulli will get a new chassis for the European Grand Prix, but only after he initially turned the car change down because he did not want teammate Heikki Kovalainen to feel he was being favored.
Lotus' latest chassis was always scheduled for arrival at the Valencia race, and Kovalainen had been penciled in as the man to get it. However, with Trulli having complained of balance problems with his usual car, technical chief Mike Gascoyne reckoned it would be in the team's interests that the Italian gets it instead this time. When Trulli was told what has happening, however, he said he did not want the new chassis because it was not fair to Kovalainen.
"Jarno has been pretty unhappy with the balance of his car and has been struggling," 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 favored, 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 afterward."
On the back of an encouraging performance at the Canadian Grand Prix, and with a major upgrade on the car scheduled for the British GP, Gascoyne thinks the team's focus has shifted from being best of the new outfits, to actually threatening the establishment.
"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 out-qualify 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."
Gascoyne thinks it too much to expect Lotus becoming a regular in hauling itself among the established teams, but reckons it can on occasion punch above its weight.
"I would say in reality we are probably seven or eight tenths away from them, 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."