We may only be in July, but the first driver confirmation for 2015 was made yesterday as Lotus boss Gerard Lopez revealed that Pastor Maldonado will be staying with the team for next season.
Although his retention was something of a formality, most teams choose to leave their driver announcements until later in the season. However, in an interview the Lotus F1 Team website, Lopez confirmed that the Venezuelan driver will remain at Enstone for 2015.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but as it’s half way through the season I can confirm 50% of our driver line-up for 2015 as Pastor is with us for next year,” Lopez said. “Despite the difficulties we’ve had so far this season, he recognises our true potential as a team and we recognise his true potential as a driver. We will achieve great things together.”
Maldonado joined Lotus at the beginning of the season after spending three years at Williams. The one-time grand prix winner has gained many critics over the years as a result of his aggressive driving style, but he has shown signs of immense pace and ability.
It has been a very difficult year for Lotus following a period of great uncertainty in 2013. Maldonado’s signing did ease the financial pressure at Enstone, and Lopez is looking forwards to the team being properly back on its feet next year.
“We have been able to take steps to ensure that 2014’s lessons have been learnt and we get back to where we want to be in 2015 – fighting for podiums,” he explained. “When we look at the team’s recent history we can see what is possible. In 2011 our car followed a unique development path with the forward facing exhausts. This concept didn’t give us the results we wanted but look how we bounced back in 2012 and 2013!
“Our 2014 car hasn’t given us the results we’ve wanted, so watch this space in 2015 and beyond!”
With 50% of the line-up confirmed, a question mark hangs over the other 50%: Romain Grosjean. In 2013, he developed from a crash-kid driver to one of the most talented starlets on the grid. In 2014, he has scored all eight of the team’s points, and is well respected in the F1 paddock.
However, with the team set to switch to Mercedes engines in 2014, Grosjean’s place may be at risk. Three of the four Mercedes-powered teams use Petronas fuel, with the fourth – McLaren – suffering a lack of performance as it is running on Mobil 1. Grosjean’s main backer is French supplier Total, but it is unclear whether the team will have to switch to Petronas, thus ending that deal.
For the time being though, both drivers will be hoping to do the best job possible and try to score some points at today’s German Grand Prix. You can watch the race live on CNBC from 7:30am ET.