Lotus deputy boss issues rally cry to team

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has issued a rally cry ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend as the team looks to bounce back from a disastrous start to the season.

Due to a number of issues at Enstone, the team missed the opening pre-season test in Jerez and has been on the back foot ever since. In Australia, drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean qualified in the bottom two positions on the grid and both retired from the race whilst outside of the points.

Nevertheless, Gastaldi has issued a statement of intent for the rest of the season in reply to the naysayers that have already written off Lotus’ chances.

“I’d say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22,” Gastaldi explained. “If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning world championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again.

“We’re a smaller team – we’re not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren, but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team’s renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!”

Gastaldi is hopeful that the team can continue to progress in Malaysia, and is targeting a return to the front of the field when F1 reaches Europe in May.

“We need to keep learning and if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the Championship comes back to Europe,” he explained.

The Italian was appointed as deputy team principal earlier this month following Eric Boullier’s exit in January.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski