Did the 2015 Formula 1 season get off to a rough start for Lotus?
It’s impossible to spin it any other way. Both of its cars, driven by Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, left the starting grid for the Australian Grand Prix. But when the field came back around, neither car was part of it.
Maldonado made contact with another car and spun into the outside wall coming out of Turn 2. Grosjean didn’t get much farther, losing power later in the lap. They were among four cars that made the starting grid but failed to start or even finish a lap.
Now the team heads to Sepang, Malaysia for the Malaysian Grand Prix confident it will extend their race by much more than a lap.
“We should build on the work in Australia. Yes, our race was very short there, however we’ve demonstrated the first step of our 2015 fightback by qualifying in the top ten with good race pace potential,” said Lotus deputy team principal, Federico Gastaldi. Maldonado and Grosjean qualified eight and ninth respectively in Australia.
“We want to see progress from the start we made at Albert Park and it would be fantastic to have both cars greet the checkered flag with a good clutch of points stashed away,” Gastaldi said.
Maldonado is in his second season with Lotus and last year at Sepgang, the native of Venezuela started 16th before finishing 21st with engine problems.
“Sepang is a good track and I really like the challenges it presents,” Maldonado said. “It’s very interesting from an engineering point of view, especially the aerodynamics, but also the tires because the asphalt is very aggressive. Hopefully the race will be much longer for us than it was in Australia!”
Grosjean has competed at the 15-turn track three times, all with Lotus, and finished twice. The Swiss’ best finish was sixth in 2012 after starting 11th.
“[Sepang is] one of my favorites. It has a great flow to it and there are good overtaking opportunities as well as good potential for an exciting race,” Grosjean said. “It’s a circuit that many drivers like. It’s also an interesting track for the engineers working to get the best set-up for the car to work well. It makes for quite a hard race too, as you have the heat and humidity along with the challenge of the track itself.
“It’s going to be fun.”