Signs of life from Romain Grosjean and Lotus?

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At this point, small victories are important for Lotus. Luckily for them, they got one on Sunday in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

While the team were unable to accumulate any points at Sepang and had another engine issue doom Pastor Maldonado’s day at Lap 7, Romain Grosjean was able to turn in a solid run to 11th, just one place outside of the points.

“Eleventh place is good for all the guys at Enstone and at the track, and it’s good for me too,” said the Frenchman.

“Finishing the race was our first objective and then we wanted to see where we were with our car. It’s not perfect yet but it’s good to be where we are at this stage.”

And if not for damage to his rear diffuser in the closing laps, he might have been able to give Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat a fight for 10th and the last World Championship point up for grabs.

Instead, he was left to turn back former Lotus teammate and current Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen, which he was able to accomplish.

“I had a big loss of downforce around eight laps to the end especially in the rear of the car which made things difficult, especially when I had to defend,” Grosjean said.

“Without that issue, I’m sure we could have finished higher. It’s good to be back and close to the points so it’s a positive for all of us. It was a good battle at the end. I kept remembering our past battles to make sure Kimi couldn’t go through!”

As RoGro mentioned, seeing the checkered flag was the top priority for the Renault-powered team, which suffered through a trying winter of testing and then saw both Grosjean and Maldonado retire early at the season opener in Australia.

Malaysia was looking to be a lost cause as well, as more problems with the E22 made for limited practice laps on Friday.

But with Grosjean’s effort on Sunday, Lotus has at least shown that a return to regular appearances in the points may not be too far away with continued development.

Pagenaud leads no-tow times in Sunday practice

Photo: IndyCar
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Sunday practice ahead of Day 2 of qualifying for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 was split into two groups – one for the drivers who ended Saturday qualifying in positions 10-33, and one for the drivers who made the Fast Nine Shootout for the Pole.

In the combined times, Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest overall. But, Simon Pagenaud topped the all-important no-tow speeds with a lap of 229.409 mph.

Pagenaud’s Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, and Will Power were second, third, and fourth on the no-tow chart – and they were also the only four drivers from the Top 9 who went out for practice.

Of the drivers who qualifying between positions 10 through 33, Alexander Rossi had the quickest no-tow speed of 227.779 mph.

Combined results are below. Qualifying begins at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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