(Lotus F1 Team)
The Lotus F1 Team have struggled since the start of the 2015 season and despite showing great promise and reliability in winter testing the Enstone outfit had been unable to translate the pace of the new Mercedes powered package…until this weekend.
Romain Grosjean started the race from eighth place on the grid with a set of the Pirelli P-Zero yellow walled Soft compound tyres and made a good start and had a clean race which is what the team had been looking for from both drivers. The Frenchman brought his E23 Hybrid home in seventh place to give the Lotus F1 Team their first points finish of the season and his first points since last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Speaking following the race Grosjean stated:
‘It’s the best we could do today and it’s satisfying to have achieved the team’s first points of the season. I’m proud of everyone at Enstone and at the track. It wasn’t an easy circuit for us, with a lot of front limited corners that we don’t particularly like, but we had a strong start, and most of the stints were good too. We’ve made a good job improving the car race after race and it’s great to finally score points. The next race could be promising too!’
Pastor Maldonado was on target for a strong result today too and could have joined his team mate in a points scoring position however the Venezuelan who has yet to finish a race this was forced to retire from the Chinese Grand Prix through no fault of his own after being hit from behind by the McLaren Honda of Jenson Button.
As a result of the damage done to his car, Maldonado was forced to pull the car into the Lotus garage. Button apologised over the radio for the incident and received a time penalty following the race which was added to his race time. The 2009 world champion also had two penalty points applied to his FIA Super Licence.
Speaking following the race Maldonado commented:
‘I made a great start and we were running strongly early on however later I had a braking issue which made it harder to battle. We also have to understand why the brakes locked-up so easily coming into the pits. We lost a lot of time here and it compromised the rest of my race. It was a fantastic battle with Jenson and we were passing each other very cleanly; a good, fun, exciting battle. Unfortunately, it looks like he got his braking point wrong and went into the back of me. This can easily happen when you’re fighting for position, braking off-line and using DRS, so it’s just one of those things. Certainly our race pace is good, if we qualify a little higher we should be set for a very good time in Bahrain.’
The Enstone outfit now move up to 8th place in the championship on six points just one point behind fellow Mercedes runners, the Sahara Force India Formula One Team. Speaking following the race, Deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi stated:
‘It feels great to gets points on the board and get that particular monkey off our back. Romain performed strongly all weekend and his seventh position is just reward. It wasn’t such a good race for Pastor. He made a fantastic start, but suffered later in the race with braking and also racing contact from Jenson. The team is buoyed by Romain’s result and we’re looking forward to increasing our tally in Bahrain.’
The team have shown that they have a competitive package with the E23 Hybrid and the Mercedes power unit which they will be hoping that they can take advantage of as Formula One heads to the Bahrain night race next weekend where the team have a great record. In 2013, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finished on the podium here behind race winner Sebastian Vettel.
The outfit have also confirmed that they will have new updates coming for the Spanish Grand Prix next month so the result today is a good platform for the team to build on.
Speaking following the race the Lotus F1 Team’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane commented saying:
‘That was a solid race from us which illustrates where we expected to be fighting from the start of the year. Both cars were looking in very good shape for a seventh and eighth finish, and it was a great result from Romain meaning our first points on the board. We achieved our target of overtaking the Red Bull and both of the Saubers with Romain, who delivered everything required. Pastor had a much more difficult race despite a strong start and clearly had potential to finish comfortably in the top ten too.’
This weekend’s event was not just a great result for the team but it was also great for their test driver Jolyon Palmer who took part in his first official Free Practice session for the Enstone outfit and showed good pace.
The reigning GP2 champion will be back in the car next Friday for Free Practice One at the Bahrain International Circuit where just like in Malaysia two weeks ago the high temperatures will play a crucial role in the outcome of the race.