Gastaldi confident Lotus can “open some eyes” in Spain

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi believes that the planned upgrades for the E23 Hybrid car could “open some eyes” at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The British team has enjoyed a mixed start to the 2015 season, picking up 12 points courtesy of Romain Grosjean after two seventh-place finishes.

A lack of reliability and, in some cases, bad luck has seen a number of further points-scoring opportunities pass the team by, but the Enstone operation remains upbeat heading to the European leg of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Speaking ahead of next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Gastaldi said that Lotus has been working hard on the updated parts that are due for the race in Barcelona, and he thinks that the improved performance they offer could surprise many within the paddock.

“We’ve been working hard on improving the E23 and how we use it, whether through the progress made in our technical debriefs, or the parts being fabricated here in Enstone,” Gastaldi explained.

“There’s potential for some things which could open some eyes in Barcelona and then at the next race in Monaco too. It’s fair to say it’s busy times at Enstone.”

Gastaldi was full of praise for Grosjean ahead of the race after his solid start to the season, but believes that there is still more to come from the Frenchman in 2015.

“Romain delivered another textbook driving display in Bahrain and he continues to impress us and other seasoned F1 observers with his on track prowess,” Gastaldi said. “He is very focused this year and this means he’s making the most of every moment in the car.

“We know as soon as we can unlock a little more pace from the E23, there will be even stronger results to come.”

In the sister car, Pastor Maldonado has been less fortunate, and currently sits at the bottom of the drivers’ championship with just one finish to his name, coming home 15th in Bahrain.

“We’re still waiting for those first 2015 points with Pastor and no-one wants them more than the man himself,” Gastaldi said. “Pastor is driving really well and has been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes rather too much this year.

“We know he likes the E23 and can get it to deliver very good pace. Pastor enjoyed great success in Barcelona a few years ago so hopefully that is a good omen for him.”

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

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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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.”