Maldonado still smiling despite disastrous day for Lotus

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“It never rains, but it pours” is a saying that is perfectly applicable to Lotus F1 Team in 2014. Following a difficult 2013 season that was blighted by a number of financial problems and public disputes, the team is now in the process of restructuring and rebuilding in order to try and return to the front of the field.

However, after a terrible weekend in Australia that saw Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean qualify last and both retire from the race, the team’s fortunes have failed to improve on Friday in Malaysia.

Romain Grosjean completed just 18 laps on Friday, but his first run was brought to an early end when his car stopped out on track. Having also been hit with a problem on his car, Maldonado eventually came out towards the end of FP1, only for the E22 to start spewing smoke from its engine before eventually coming to a halt on pit entry.

Despite not posting a time, Maldonado remains optimistic about what the team can do, but did not make any secret of his struggles.

“Well we have had so many problems today,” he admitted. “We’ve been stuck in the garage and have not even been able to complete a lap. But that’s just the way it is!

“Since the pre-season we’ve had quite a few problems around the power unit, and again today – it’s not what we want but we just need to accept it and work a lot harder than the others.

“I think the team is doing quite well and is working very hard, but the power unit is very complicated. However we need to be strong together and keep pushing.”

Grosjean did manage to post a lap time in FP2, albeit 2.6 seconds behind pace-setter Nico Rosberg and ahead only of the Marussia and Caterham drivers.

It’s a far cry from the team that won a race in 2013 and scored podiums on a regular basis, and it will be interesting to see just whether or not the British outfit can return to such heights in 2014 in the face of such adversity.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.