Grosjean has faith in Lotus revival after poor start

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Romain Grosjean has once again affirmed his faith in the entire Lotus team despite a disastrous start to the season that has seen the one-time front-runners fail to score any points in the opening two rounds of the 2014 F1 season.

After a series of financial crises last year, the team finally found some stability by securing finance from Pastor Maldonado’s backers, PDVSA, and downsizing the workforce at Enstone by 20%.

However, the E22 car was not ready for the first test in Jerez, and Lotus has been on the back foot ever since. A double retirement in Australia came as little surprise, but Grosjean rallied to finish 11th in Malaysia, and the Frenchman was pleased with this result after such a tough start to the year.

“I won’t say exactly everything I could say inside my helmet sometimes,” Grosjean joked. “I think it was good for all the guys that we could finish the Malaysian Grand Prix. Of course it was not the way you would like to see when you start a Grand Prix but at the moment that’s where we are plus we were not that far from the points.”

Grosjean refused to give any kind of time scale for when the team will be back up in the points and fighting for race wins as per 2013, but he has total faith in the team at Enstone.

“I don’t know, to be honest,” he said when asked how long it would take for the team to bounce back. “I know that we still have in our genes the winning spirit and we can still fight back.

“Of course, when you start the season with everything in the right direction it’s easier to move forward but at the moment we’ve had some issues, we’ve solved most of them, hopefully no more coming, then we can go from there.

“Renault is well aware that the power unit needs to improve a little bit compared to certain other manufacturers, but I think it’s going to be good and we can work on our car.”

Grosjean has finished on the podium in the last two Bahrain Grands Prix, but he will be hard-pressed to emulate this result on Sunday. You can watch the race live on NBCSN from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”