F1 2015 team preview: Lotus F1 Team

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Lotus F1 Team

Drivers
No. 8 Romain Grosjean
No. 13 Pastor Maldonado

First Race: 2012 Australian Grand Prix*
Grands Prix: 58
Pole Positions: 
0
Fastest Laps: 
5
Race Wins: 
2
Best Constructors’ Championship Finish: 
4th (2012 and 2013)
2014 Championship Result: 
8th (10 points)

The financial crisis that currently blights F1 hit Lotus hard in 2014, with its success in the preceding years appearing to catch up financially. Pastor Maldonado’s arrival and subsequent injection of Venezuelan oil cash managed to stabilize the team, but failed to take the team any higher than P8 in the constructors’ championship. The paltry haul of ten points is made all the less impressive by the fact that it came from just three separate scores: Grosjean in Spain, Grosjean in Monaco and Maldonado in the USA.

However, 2015 could be a new dawn for Lotus. With Mercedes engines now powering the E23 Hybrid and an all-new car, the team seems to be moving forwards. In testing, both Maldonado and Grosjean finished at the top of the timesheets on days in Barcelona, and although the long-run pace of the car left much to be desired compared to the front-runners, a definite step has been made ahead of the new season. Maldonado may be a liability at times, but there is no denying he is quick, whilst Grosjean will hopefully be able to spend less time raging on his team radio this year and focus his energy into repeating his breakthrough in 2013.

Lotus may still be licking its wounds from 2014, but the boys from Enstone appear to be back in business.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN No. 8

If Lotus’ preseason testing pace is legitimate, then Grosjean is the more likely of the team’s two drivers to make the most of it in races throughout the year. The Frenchman bit his tongue for most of the 2014 campaign as the chassis was a difficult one to handle and the Renault engine was down on power compared to Mercedes. Now armed with a Mercedes, Grosjean’s fate should be better this year. He’s a likeable driver who is overflowing with potential, and if the racing gods smiled down on him he’d be owed his elusive first career victory.

PASTOR MALDONADO No. 13

F1’s perennial miscreant may have struggled during his debut season with Lotus, yet 2015 looks to have a brighter horizon for Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan driver impressed during testing, and relying he can keep the E23 Hybrid pointing in the right direction, points should be a realistic target at each grand prix. Maldonado has long been an optimist, saying for much of last year that he’d finish in the top ten when, quite simply, it wasn’t going to happen. Now though? His upbeat nature may just pay dividends.

*2012 is taken as the team’s first year given that this is when Renault stepped back and purely became an engine supplier, thus breaking from the Lotus Renault/Renault/Benetton years.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.