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.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.