(Lotus F1 Team)
The Lotus F1 Team endured another difficult race weekend in Malaysia. Following their double retirement from the season opening race in Australia two weeks ago, the Enstone outfit managed to get just one car to finish with Romain Grosjean coming home just outside the points in 11th place as Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire from the race.
The Venezuelan ended his just nine laps from the chequered flag due to an issue with the brakes on his E23 Hybrid.
Romain Grosjean completed the Malaysian Grand Prix using a three stop strategy. The Frenchman began the race on a set of the Pirelli Medium compound tyre before switching to a new set of the Medium compound tyres on lap 15 before switching to another set of the Medium compound tyres on lap 26 before making his final stop on lap 34 for a new set of Hard tyres. Speaking following the race, the Frenchman stated:
‘Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking, although I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg and then the spin with Perez in such a fast corner. I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it. I also had an issue with my drinks bottle which added to the fun. Overall the car behaved well though and we’re not far from the top ten so we’ll work to close the gap for China.’
Pastor Maldonado was unfortunate not to finish the Malaysian Grand Prix for the fifth time in five starts in Kuala Lumpur. Up until his retirement from the event, the Venezuelan had pitted three times, once on the opening lap following a puncture where he changed to the Medium compound tyre. He made his second stop on lap 18 for the Hard tyre and then stopped for the final time on lap 33 for a set of the Hard tyres. Speaking following the race Maldonado stated:
‘The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points. Unfortunately there was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on. Despite dropping to the very back of the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well. Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn’t great but it’s effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix. As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points.’
The Enstone outfit’s Deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi commented on the day’s race saying:
‘Today was about unfulfilled potential. Both Pastor and Romain could have scored strongly but events out of their hands meant they did not. That’s motor racing sometimes and we’re firmly focused on China to open our points account. We’ve shown again that the E23 is a great package and both our drivers are capable of delivering with the very best. Shanghai will present a challenge very different from the one seen here so that’s our next focus.”
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester concluded by saying:
‘Romain was looking set for a pretty strong result however traffic and being tipped into a spin undid that potential whilst Pastor suffered from a first lap puncture then a problem with the brakes late in the race. It’s a shame as we demonstrated good pace in qualifying and reasonable race pace in clear air in the very high temperatures here today. We’re very eager to get back out on track in Shanghai and we’re learning more about the E23’s potential every time it’s out on track.’
© Ben Johnston 2015