The final part of my look back at the first 4 races of the season concentrates on Lotus, Virgin and HRT.
Lotus - Considering the restricted timescale that Lotus had in creating their car, they've done well to have made a solid car that has seen decent reliability. At least 1 driver has seen the chequered flag in each race this season and Heikki Kovalainen has impressed, taking the car to Q2 in Sepang as well as finishing ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in China. It's been a bit more problematic for Jarno Trulli. The Italian is known for his one lap brilliance but Kovalainen has matched him and come race day, hydrualic issues have led to a retirement in Shanghai and not even getting started in Melbourne. Lotus have a massive upgrade for Barcelona and are confident of gaining at least 1.5 seconds. Doing this would put them close to the pace of the likes of Torro Rosso and Sauber. Check out the video courtesy of James Allen which shows footage from within the factory as well as Mike Gascoyne's thoughts on the new package.
Virgin - It's been a tough opening to their debut season for Virgin. In Bahrain Timo Glock acheived the teams aim of outqualifying Lotus but reliabilty problems seen both him and Lucas Di Grassi out early. Before the Australian Grand Prix came the admission that the cars fuel tank wasn't big enough. Glock got in the action at Albert Park, as he battled with Michael Schumacher. Both cars retired from that race though as did Glock in Sepang after spinning into Jarno Trulli. However Di Grassi got Virgins first finish, though only after effectively cruising in the last few laps to ensure he didn't run out of fuel. More problems affected the team in China and they will be hopeful of making upgrades for the next few races. However the fuel tank problem is hampering progress and only Timo Glock will have a new chassis for this race meaning his Brazilian team mate may well have to conservative with fuel use again.
HRT - The team that should have been Campos but a late change in ownership saw the team renamed with Karun Chandok joining another rookie Bruno Senna. The car looked horrible to drive in Bahrain, which was basically a shakedown for the team. Chandok didn't get any running until qualifying and both cars retired early in the race. Melbourne saw the pace gradually improve and Chandok got the car to the finish so at least there were positives to be taken reliabilty wise. Both cars have made the race distance in Sepang and Shanghai so what is needed now is an improvement in pace. Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien have been signed as test drivers with Klien running in first practice in Barcelona. Geoff Willis is helping the team in a consultancy role and has commented on how some things could be easily improved on the car. This would suggest that there is time to be found on the car. Hopefully the team can start finding some of it.