Faster pit stops a priority for Lotus

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Lotus have admitted they need to sharpen up their game in the pits having been over a second off the best last weekend.

Race team manager Paul Seaby admitted the crew “lost our mojo a little over the Malaysia weekend”.

“On Friday our practice stops were as good as they ever have been, but from Saturday onwards we were struggling to string good stops together,” he explained.

“The switch from wet to dry conditions and subsequent front wing flap adjustments didn’t help, but even taking that into consideration it still wasn’t our best weekend.

“We have to take that on the chin, put everyone through their paces with some more practice at Enstone, and work hard to get back to where we should be and deserve to be. Similar to a football team; when we are good praise is due, and when we aren’t we need to face up to that as a unit, work hard together and get ourselves back on song.”

Lotus’s best complete pit stop during the Malaysian Grand Prix was Romain Grosjean’s on lap 25 of the race. He was in and out in 21.8 seconds – over a second slower than the quickest stop of the race, performed by Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen’s first visit to the pits on lap six was particularly slow, almost six seconds off the benchmark time.

However the race also demonstrated the dangers in trying to push for that last second in the pits. Force India introduced a new ‘captive wheel nut’ system designed to shave vital tenths off their stops, but a problem with securing the wheel meant they had to retire both cars.

Formula 1: Ricciardo nurses power unit trouble to win in Monaco

Photo: Getty Images
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Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo had dominated the Monaco Grand Prix weekend heading into Sunday, topping every practice session and laying down a lap-record 1:10.810 to secure the pole.

The race itself was also going according to plan for Ricciardo, as he got the jump off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the start to lead into Sainte Devote.

However, on Lap 28, after the leaders all made their lone pit stops of the race, Ricciardo’s day nearly came unglued when he reported a loss of power on his RB14.

With the Red Bull team monitoring the issue, Vettel was able to close back in on Ricciardo and began stalking him for the lead.

However, Ricciardo brilliantly utilized a combination of late-braking and sustained cornering speed to keep Vettel at bay and secure his first victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The victory, Ricciardo’s second of the 2018 Formula 1 season, serves as sweet redemption after a pit stop error cost him a possible victory in 2016, when he settled for second behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel, meanwhile, saw his challenge hampered after a Lap 72 Virtual Safety Car for a crash between Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley – Leclerc suffered brake failure on the run up to the Nouvelle Chicane, and collected Hartley in the process.

When the VSC ended, Vettel could not get his Pirellis back up to temperature, and Ricciardo pulled away in the final laps.

While Vettel ended up second, Hamilton rounded out the podium in third, despite struggling with a graining issue on his Pirelli ultrasofts in the second half of the race. Hamilton held off Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who also fended off Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas for fourth – the trio finished up third (Hamilton), fourth (Raikkonen), and fifth (Bottas).

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Force India, with Pierre Gasly coming home a strong seventh for Toro Rosso. Nico Hulkenberg ended up eighth for Renault, while Max Verstappen came home ninth after starting last – Verstappen ran long on his first stint before switching to hypersofts on Lap 48. He ran the hypers all the way to the end to finish ninth.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was the final points finisher, coming home tenth for Renault.

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