Thursday, 2 April 2015

Lotus F1 Team Chinese Grand Prix Preview

(Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team head into next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix hopeful of getting some points on the board.

The Enstone outfit narrowly missed out on scoring point’s last time out where Romain Grosjean finished the Malaysian Grand Prix in eleventh place just behind Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Lotus have shown that the E23 Hybrid is a quick car so they will be hoping to be rewarded at the next race. Speaking about the Chinese Grand Prix Romain Grosjean stated:

It’s quite a particular circuit where it is not always easy to find the right setup and the temperature can also be cold. You never know what to expect, except that there will be a monster traffic jam to get to the circuit! I scored my first Formula 1 points at Shanghai in 2012 and scored points again in 2013 so let’s hope that’s a good omen. Certainly, we’re better placed than when we last visited the track.’

The Frenchman was asked about how he felt the Malaysian Grand Prix went for him to which he said:

‘It was hot and humid, especially in the qualifying session. Generally it was a good weekend with strong performance through the qualifying session, however in the race things didn’t quite work out the way we wanted. There are still a lot of good positives we take to the next races and when it all comes together it’s going to be very nice.’

Grosjean went on say:

My drinks system wasn’t working from lap 20 onwards so I was certainly pretty thirsty by the time I got to the end of the race! I soon rehydrated and it wasn’t so much of a problem when I got back to the cold of Europe.’

The Frenchman was asked how he could have overtaken Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg to which he replied:

‘I could have passed him, not in the first few laps of the race when his tyres were as new as mine, but later on – as we did after the first pit stop – but we didn’t have 100% performance from the engine which made it difficult to make the overtaking manoeuvre.’

Grosjean was asked what it felt like when he went through his 360 degree spin. The Frenchman commented by saying:

‘I had a few choice expressions as it was quite a high speed 360 and not quite in the place where you want it to happen. I thought it looked pretty good when I saw it afterwards – perhaps my ice racing in the winter helped me here!’

Speaking to the team ahead of the race next weekend, Grosjean was asked how he feels the E23 Hybrid will perform at the Shanghai International Circuit:

‘Shanghai is always quite a particular race track so it’s quite difficult to predict. It’s often pretty cold and the front is the limitation of the car as you look to avoid understeer. I think we have a lot of tools at our disposal to try to make our car work well and I’m sure we’ll have a good race.’

The French driver was asked how he will cope with the temperature change between the Malaysian and Chinese Grand Prix to which he replied:

‘It’s not so much the change in temperature than the jet lag you get in the early part of the season from flying to different countries. We’ve seen that China can be pretty cold and drizzly in the past and you don’t get to see the sun there too many times. The weather’s the same for everyone and you’re not thinking about it too much when you’re in the car; you’re just thinking about how to go faster.’

Following Sebastian Vettel’s victory for the Scuderia Ferrari team, Grosjean was asked if he feels there will be multiple race winners this season?

‘It was good to see Ferrari win in Malaysia and I think it was good for Formula 1. They worked well in Malaysia and I think they’ll be a force in the hot races. I think China should play more to the Mercedes but we’ll be fighting to do our best and present a challenge too.’

This season sees the Chinese and Bahrain Grand Prix held as back to back events and Grosjean was asked about it –

‘With my experience, I’ve got a good flight strategy between the two events. It’s actually going to be my birthday in Bahrain; I’m getting older but I should be in a good mood!’

Pastor Maldonado heads to the Chinese Grand Prix having retired from the opening two Grand Prix of the season. The Venezuelan was asked to reflect on the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend:

‘It was very good for the team that we are in a position to fight for points on a different track. It was very hot and in those conditions the car didn’t look bad. During the race, even with the damage we had from the floor after the contact from Valtteri Bottas in the first corner, our pace was very consistent. We had a couple of small reliability issues but the team’s working very hard on this, and we expect to have these resolved by China. I’m looking forward to getting out in action in Shanghai and hoping for a clean weekend when we should be able to get some points.’

Maldonado was asked how he felt about the Malaysian Grand Prix and whether or not he was frustrated:

‘It was frustrating, especially as by the time I’d caught up with the cars ahead we’d developed an issue with the brakes so it was difficult to attack! It’s racing. I’ve been a bit unlucky, especially in the first corners of the first two races but on the other hand we have a car which is more competitive and this says that we can fight for points through the season. The potential of the car is there, we just need to put everything together and the results will come soon.’

The Shanghai International Circuit features an extremely tough first corner and Pastor was asked about it –

‘The first corner of a Grand Prix is always thrilling as you have to balance the opportunities to make up places with the risk of losing them. Certainly in the first two races this season I’ve been the victim of other drivers’ incidents and that’s racing sometimes. The first corners in Shanghai are quite interesting as you’ve got a decent run down to the right-hander that is turn one, but that flows straight into the tightening turn two so it can get pretty busy!’

How does the Venezuelan feel about the circuit?

‘Shanghai is a very technical circuit with one of the longest straights of the season so it will be good to see how high a top speed we can get as we’ve been pretty strong through the speed traps so far this season. There is a mix of fast and medium speed corners where we need good downforce and overall it is a challenging track which I like, so I’m looking forward to racing there.’

How will the car perform in Shanghai?

‘I think we should be in a similar position to that we’ve been in for the first and second race, so fighting for the top ten in qualifying and then in the race. Let’s see what the track conditions are like, the weather, how the car feels and how good a set-up we can get. I’m confident we should be fighting for good places.’

Like Grosjean, Maldonado was asked about the affect the change in conditions between the Malaysian and Chinese Grand Prix might have the drivers to which he stated:

‘It doesn’t affect you so much as a driver as you train to be fit and race ready no matter what the conditions. It has more of an effect on the car, especially if it’s cold as making the tyres work and getting them into their operating window can be a challenge. It’s true that we’ve struggled in this area in the past, but it’s something that the team have been focusing on so let’s see how we are when we get out on track.’

The Chinese Grand Prix marks the first back to back Grand Prix of the season as the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place just one week after the race in Shanghai at the Sakhir circuit which has been hit by a severe sand storm. Speaking about the back to back events, Maldonado stated:

‘Honestly, I prefer it when we have races like this as you are focused as it actually cuts down on the overall amount of travelling you have to do as you go straight from one destination to the next rather than flying home and then back out like we saw with Australia and Malaysia having a week between them. After Bahrain we get a bit of a break to recover, get some training and spend some time with the family before the European season begins.’ 

© Ben Johnston 2015

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