Alesi thinks Lotus could shine at Sepang

By on Thursday, March 22, 2012

© Lotus F1 Team

Lotus team ambassador Jean Alesi has tipped Lotus to shine this weekend at Sepang.

The black and gold E20 car was a standout of the winter pre-season, but Kimi Raikkonen qualified 18th in Australia while Romain Grosjean was punted into early retirement by Pastor Maldonado.

"The car should suit Sepang well," said the Frenchman.

"In testing in Jerez and Barcelona it was particularly good in the fast turns, which is what defines the Malaysia track.

"Lotus appear to be quicker than everyone except McLaren," added Alesi.

He is worried, however, that the former Renault team might not be able to keep up its pace throughout 2012.

"Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have much bigger budgets," said Alesi.

"They have a brilliant team at Enstone but it is really tough to match the development pace of the biggest teams, and I think that will be Lotus' challenge this year."

Championship leader Jenson Button has also said he is expecting a "strong fight" this weekend despite seeing the chequered flag first in Melbourne.

"Of course we're not relaxing," said the Briton.

"Both Red Bull drivers were very quick in the race (in Australia), and I think we can expect further strong challenges (in Malaysia) from Mercedes and Lotus," added Button.

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