Maldonado still smiling despite disastrous day for Lotus

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“It never rains, but it pours” is a saying that is perfectly applicable to Lotus F1 Team in 2014. Following a difficult 2013 season that was blighted by a number of financial problems and public disputes, the team is now in the process of restructuring and rebuilding in order to try and return to the front of the field.

However, after a terrible weekend in Australia that saw Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean qualify last and both retire from the race, the team’s fortunes have failed to improve on Friday in Malaysia.

Romain Grosjean completed just 18 laps on Friday, but his first run was brought to an early end when his car stopped out on track. Having also been hit with a problem on his car, Maldonado eventually came out towards the end of FP1, only for the E22 to start spewing smoke from its engine before eventually coming to a halt on pit entry.

Despite not posting a time, Maldonado remains optimistic about what the team can do, but did not make any secret of his struggles.

“Well we have had so many problems today,” he admitted. “We’ve been stuck in the garage and have not even been able to complete a lap. But that’s just the way it is!

“Since the pre-season we’ve had quite a few problems around the power unit, and again today – it’s not what we want but we just need to accept it and work a lot harder than the others.

“I think the team is doing quite well and is working very hard, but the power unit is very complicated. However we need to be strong together and keep pushing.”

Grosjean did manage to post a lap time in FP2, albeit 2.6 seconds behind pace-setter Nico Rosberg and ahead only of the Marussia and Caterham drivers.

It’s a far cry from the team that won a race in 2013 and scored podiums on a regular basis, and it will be interesting to see just whether or not the British outfit can return to such heights in 2014 in the face of such adversity.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.