Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix proved to be a race to forget for both Lotus and McLaren as they left Monza with little to show for their efforts.
Coming off the back of Romain Grosjean’s breakthrough podium finish at Spa two weeks ago, Lotus arrived in Italy hoping to cause another upset and increase its advantage over Force India in the race for P5 in the constructors’ championship.
With both Grosjean and teammate Pastor Maldonado starting inside the top ten, the British team appeared to be on the cusp of another good haul of points.
However, its race lasted barely a lap as both drivers got caught up in incidents at the first corner. Maldonado was forced to pull into the garage and retired at the end of lap one after clashing with Nico Hulkenberg at turn one.
“I had contact in turn one where the Force India came into the side of me and took out my front-right suspension and that was the end of my race,” Maldonado explained. “We were looking for a strong finish and we had potential for that. Everyone knows that turn one at Monza can be tough and that’s what we saw today.”
Grosjean pulled his car to the side of the track and retired on lap two due to damage caused by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr off the line.
“We had the potential of a good race ahead of us,” the Frenchman explained. “I made a strong start but got hit by a car from behind in turn one which broke my rear suspension so that was it for us. It was a too optimistic move from Nasr who hit me which meant my race was over.”
McLaren managed to make it past the first lap, but was left to fight well outside the top ten for much of the race. Fernando Alonso retired with a few laps to go, whilst Jenson Button finished 14th as the last classified car bar the Manors.
“We always knew that Monza and Spa-Francorchamps would be among the least well-suited circuits for our car, and so it proved at both venues,” racing director Eric Boullier said.
“Here in Italy, we’ve come away with nothing to show for our efforts, and obviously that’s hard to take for all concerned. It’s been a stressful few days for us – that’s probably been as obvious from the outside as it’s been painful on the inside – but we’ll now return to Woking and Sakura and continue the hard work in an effort to claw our way back to the front.
“We aren’t predicting great things for the next race, Singapore, but we’re hoping that that street circuit’s characteristics will be slightly kinder to our car than Spa-Francorchamps and Monza have been.”