Lotus deputy boss issues rally cry to team

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has issued a rally cry ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend as the team looks to bounce back from a disastrous start to the season.

Due to a number of issues at Enstone, the team missed the opening pre-season test in Jerez and has been on the back foot ever since. In Australia, drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean qualified in the bottom two positions on the grid and both retired from the race whilst outside of the points.

Nevertheless, Gastaldi has issued a statement of intent for the rest of the season in reply to the naysayers that have already written off Lotus’ chances.

“I’d say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22,” Gastaldi explained. “If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning world championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again.

“We’re a smaller team – we’re not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren, but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team’s renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!”

Gastaldi is hopeful that the team can continue to progress in Malaysia, and is targeting a return to the front of the field when F1 reaches Europe in May.

“We need to keep learning and if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the Championship comes back to Europe,” he explained.

The Italian was appointed as deputy team principal earlier this month following Eric Boullier’s exit in January.

Hartley says debut F1 point would be ‘a dream’ from last on grid

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Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.

Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.

“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.

“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”

The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.

“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.

“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.