Lotus’ Twitter hilarity powers through a challenging Renault sendoff


Lotus hasn’t won a race since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, but it basically won the Internet during today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It was the team’s uproarious Twitter account – one that often is self-deprecating, full of snark and sass yet still full of engaging, important insights – that may have been the fuel that kept it going in the wake of a challenging season finale, and one that served as the Enstone-based team’s final race with Renault power units after a 20-year partnership.

The problems started for Lotus before the race even got going, because Romain Grosjean was slapped with a 20-spot grid penalty for exceeding the maximum power units.

Grosjean couldn’t even take all those positions off, so he had to serve a drive-through penalty within the first three laps to make up the difference.

That resigned Grosjean to 20th and last with Pastor Maldonado not much better in 17th.

Then Lap 27 happened, when Maldonado had a massive engine failure. There were flames. Maldonado’s race and season were toast.

And that’s when Lotus invoked one of its commercial partners – Burn Energy Drink – in a Twitter stroke of genius.

Burn was impressed, even after being beat to the punch at its own joke.

Shortly thereafter, Lotus reached out to @Charlie_Whiting – the fake race director and version of the real one on Twitter, as expertly played by Canadian Mark McArdle – asking if further penalties were coming to Grosjean. Here was that exchange:

Lotus paid tribute to Grosjean’s penalty in a series of tweets that, in true Lotus fashion, mentioned goats and yet made it not seem completely random.

The hilarity wasn’t done yet. Earlier this weekend Lotus revealed a video whereby one of its team transporters launched over one of its F1 cars. So Lotus had an opportunity to poke fun at that next.

Grosjean made it home to the flag in perhaps the most fitting position of all – unlucky 13th, and outside the points. The team’s post-race release had the headline of “Disco Inferno.”

“We did the best we could today,” said a diplomatic Grosjean. “My race wasn’t that eventful and unfortunately it came to an early end for Pastor, so I think that we are all glad that the season is now over.”

Added Maldonado, who was OK after his own fireball, “That was a surprising race for me. Our race pace was actually pretty good and I was able to fight with the Ferraris as well as enjoy the feel from the car. I was able to push and the car worked well on both tyre compounds. Unfortunately, my race had to end early. The flames showed the engine wasn’t working too well which also mean it was getting quite hot in the car!”

So Lotus ends its character-building season eighth in the Constructor’s Championship with just 10 points – two eighth-place finishes for Grosjean and a single ninth for Maldonado. A year ago, the team ended fourth with 315 points.

What a difference a year makes.

Hopefully, as has been the case for Williams this year, Lotus will be able to turn it around with a new chassis and a new engine, a Mercedes, in 2015.

In any event, we continue to thank Lotus for their continued brilliance on social media. If you can’t laugh at a day like today Lotus had, you’ll cry. And it’s good to see Lotus choose the former.

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IndyCar Power Rankings: Alex Palou still first as Newgarden, Ferrucci make Indy 500 jumps

NBC IndyCar power rankings
Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network

The biggest race of the NTT IndyCar Series season (and in the world) is over, and NBC Sports’ power rankings look very similar to the finishing results in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Pole-sitter Alex Palou entered the Indy 500 at the top and remains there after his impressive rebound to a fourth after a midway crash in the pits. Top two Indianapolis 500 finishers Josef Newgarden and Marcus Ericsson also improved multiple spots in the power rankings just as they gained ground during the course of the 500-mile race on the 2.5-mile oval. Though Alexander Rossi dropped a position, he still shined at the Brickyard with a fifth place finish.

Santino Ferrucci, the other driver in the top five at Indy, made his first appearance in the 2023 power rankings this year and now will be tasked with keeping his A.J. Foyt Racing team toward the front as the IndyCar circuit makes its debut on a new layout..

Heading into the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of downtown, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through six of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):

  1. Alex Palou (1): Three consecutive top 10 finishes at the Indy 500, and yet the 2021 IndyCar champion still seems slightly snake-bitten at the Brickyard. A few different circumstances and a dash of experience, and Palou could have three Indy 500 wins. But he at least has the points lead.
  2. Marcus Ericsson (4): Some want to say the Indy 500 runner-up’s unhappiness with IndyCar race control was sour grapes, but the Swede had a legitimate gripe about the consistency of red flag protocols. Still a magnificent May for Ericsson, especially while the questions swirl about his future.
  3. Josef Newgarden (7): Strategist Tim Cindric and team did a fantastic job catapulting Newgarden from 17th into contention, and the two-time series champion did the rest. Particularly on a late three-wide pass for the lead, it can’t be overstated how brilliant the Team Penske driver was in his finest hour.
  4. Alexander Rossi (3): He winds up being the best Arrow McLaren finisher in a mostly disappointing Indy 500 for a team that seemed poised to become dominant. With a third in the GMR GP and a fifth in the Indy 500, this easily was Rossi’s best May since his second place in 2019.
  5. Pato O’Ward (2): Unlike last year, the Arrow McLaren star sent it this time against Ericsson and came out on the wrong side (and with lingering bitterness toward his Chip Ganassi Racing rival). The lead mostly was the wrong place to be at Indy, but O’Ward managed to be in first for a race-high 39 laps.
  6. Scott Dixon (5): He overcame brutal handling issues from a wicked set of tires during his first stint, and then the team struggled with a clutch problem while posting a typical Dixon-esque finish on “a very tough day.” The six-time champion hopes things are cleaner the rest of the season after the first three months.
  7. Santino Ferrucci (NR): Pound for pound, he and A.J. Foyt Racing had the best two weeks at Indianapolis. Ferrucci said Wednesday he still believes he had “by far the best car at the end” and if not for the timing of the final yellow and red, he would have won the Indy 500. Now the goal is maintaining into Detroit.
  8. Colton Herta (NR): He was the best in a mostly forgettable month for Andretti Autosport and now is facing a pivotal weekend. Andretti has reigned on street courses so far this season, and few have been better on new circuits than Herta. A major chance for his first victory since last year’s big-money extension.
  9. Scott McLaughlin (6): Ran in the top 10 at Indy after a strong opening stint but then lost positions while getting caught out on several restarts. A penalty for unintentionally rear-ending Simon Pagenaud in O’Ward’s crash then sent him to the rear, but McLaughlin still rallied for 14th. Detroit will be a fresh start.
  10. Rinus VeeKay (10): Crashing into Palou in the pits was less than ideal. But a front row start and 10th-place finish in the Indy 500 still were 2023 highlights for VeeKay in what’s been the toughest season of his career. The Ed Carpenter Racing cars have been slow on road and street courses, so Detroit is another test.

Falling out: Will Power (8), Felix Rosenqvist (9), Romain Grosjean (10)


PRESEASON: Josef Newgarden is a favorite to win third championship

RACE 1: Pato O’Ward to first; Newgarden drops out after St. Pete

RACE 2: O’Ward stays firmly on top of standings after Texas

RACE 3: Marcus Ericsson leads powerhouses at the top

RACE 4: Grosjean, Palou flex in bids for first victory

RACE 5: Alex Palou carrying all the momentum into Indy 500