A tough season opener and a difficult start to the 2014 season for The Lotus F1 Team down-under.
They always said it was going to be a dramatic first race in this new era of F1 and dramatic it was. Merlbourne’s Albert Park 3.3 mile circuit provided the stage for top-flight motorsport entertainment that saw Lotus put up a positive assault in what was always going to be a tough race for the black and gold team.
Disappointing qualifying for both drivers meant whilst Pastor Maldonado began at the very back of the grid, Romain Grosjean began from the pit-lane and was then further slapped with a drive-through penalty for leaving the pit garage early. Never-the-less, after lights out Maldonado was soon on the march and ascended to P11 before difficulties with the new turbo recovery unit hampered his fight resulting in his retirement in lap 29.
Grosjean faired marginally better in spite of the odds. A consistent battle from lights out saw him needle through the back of the field ascending to P12. However, with just 12 laps to go KERS failure for Romain Grosjean determined his retirement also.
Romain Grosjean DNF E22-03: “In a way, it was a pretty positive day. I expected to do around 15 to 20 laps in the race after all the issues we’ve had this weekend, and we managed 45! We’ve learnt a lot today and all the changes made to the car have been positive. We still have a long way to go, but at least I know more about tyre usage, all my engineers know where we need to improve with the chassis, and we’ve learnt a lot about aero balance and fuel consumption. Of course there’s more to do with the energy management and recovery and some work yet with the braking. We’ve still got lots of work to do, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Pastor Maldonado DNF E22-01: “It was obviously very disappointing, but if you look at the positives we did more laps than in the pre-season which is quite encouraging as we have more data which is very important for making progress. We had a very negative free practice but we did plenty of laps during the race which is very positive for the team. I’m looking forward to the next race and we’ll keep pushing.”
Frederico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal: “Though the results do not show it, everyone in the team has done a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances. Both our cars finished with problems related to the same MGU-K component so we and Renault F1 Sport both know where we have to focus for our improvements heading to Malaysia. It’s clear we also have other improvements to make, but the team spirit and resolve has not diminished. We know what we have to do and we will do it.”
The next round of the competition see’s the team head to Malaysia and to the Sepang circuit in Kuala Lumpur on the 30th March.