Lotus’ Twitter hilarity powers through a challenging Renault sendoff

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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.

Follow @TonyDiZinno

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.