Lotus confirms Pastor Maldonado for 2015

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We may only be in July, but the first driver confirmation for 2015 was made yesterday as Lotus boss Gerard Lopez revealed that Pastor Maldonado will be staying with the team for next season.

Although his retention was something of a formality, most teams choose to leave their driver announcements until later in the season. However, in an interview the Lotus F1 Team website, Lopez confirmed that the Venezuelan driver will remain at Enstone for 2015.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but as it’s half way through the season I can confirm 50% of our driver line-up for 2015 as Pastor is with us for next year,” Lopez said. “Despite the difficulties we’ve had so far this season, he recognises our true potential as a team and we recognise his true potential as a driver. We will achieve great things together.”

Maldonado joined Lotus at the beginning of the season after spending three years at Williams. The one-time grand prix winner has gained many critics over the years as a result of his aggressive driving style, but he has shown signs of immense pace and ability.

It has been a very difficult year for Lotus following a period of great uncertainty in 2013. Maldonado’s signing did ease the financial pressure at Enstone, and Lopez is looking forwards to the team being properly back on its feet next year.

“We have been able to take steps to ensure that 2014’s lessons have been learnt and we get back to where we want to be in 2015 – fighting for podiums,” he explained. “When we look at the team’s recent history we can see what is possible. In 2011 our car followed a unique development path with the forward facing exhausts. This concept didn’t give us the results we wanted but look how we bounced back in 2012 and 2013!

“Our 2014 car hasn’t given us the results we’ve wanted, so watch this space in 2015 and beyond!”

With 50% of the line-up confirmed, a question mark hangs over the other 50%: Romain Grosjean. In 2013, he developed from a crash-kid driver to one of the most talented starlets on the grid. In 2014, he has scored all eight of the team’s points, and is well respected in the F1 paddock.

However, with the team set to switch to Mercedes engines in 2014, Grosjean’s place may be at risk. Three of the four Mercedes-powered teams use Petronas fuel, with the fourth – McLaren – suffering a lack of performance as it is running on Mobil 1. Grosjean’s main backer is French supplier Total, but it is unclear whether the team will have to switch to Petronas, thus ending that deal.

For the time being though, both drivers will be hoping to do the best job possible and try to score some points at today’s German Grand Prix. You can watch the race live on CNBC from 7:30am ET.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”