Boullier: Second place in constructors’ the target for Lotus

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Lotus team principal Eric Boullier is confident that the team can still secure second place in the constructors’ championship following a good run of form that has seen the British team cut the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes.

Four podiums between drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in the past three races has left the team just twenty-three points behind Mercedes and a further ten adrift from Ferrari, and with 172 points still to play for, Boullier is confident of catching both teams.

“If we continue as we have done for the last few races, then mathematically second in the standings becomes a very attainable target,” Boullier explained. “Of course, we all know that anything can happen in this sport, but second place would be an amazing result so we’ll push as hard as we can and you never know what might happen.”

Lotus have claimed just one victory so far this season at the opening round in Australia, but Romain Grosjean came close in Japan to securing his maiden win, only for Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber to pass him late on.

“There’s one fundamental problem with trying to win at the moment, and that’s the pace of the Red Bulls,” Boullier said. “We’ll keep pushing and if we can beat them again this year it would be a tremendous performance.”

The team is currently in the process of finding a replacement for Raikkonen as the Finn prepares to return to Ferrari in 2014. The man he is replacing, Felipe Massa, is thought to be vying for the seat at Lotus, but he faces competition from Sauber starlet Nico Hulkenberg.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.