The Lotus F1 Team did not break into the top ten during either Friday free practice session ahead of this weekends Canadian Grand Prix, but both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were happy about the progress the team have made, especially in between Montreal and the Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
Grosjean finished fourteenth in the first session before improving to eleventh in the afternoon, and was upbeat about the progress the team had made since Monaco two weeks ago when the car was difficult to handle around the slow corners, something that Montreal also possesses.
“If you look at the speed trap it’s not been a good day but if you look at the handling of the car and how it’s improved since Monaco I’m pretty happy,” said Grosjean. “Everyone back at Enstone’s reacted really well once we knew where we were struggling with the low speed corners and the car really is transformed here.
“It was enjoyable to drive the car today, even though it’s a tricky circuit to master. I can feel that things are headed in the right direction.
“I was pretty pleased with my lap time. It included a little mistake in turn seven so there’s room from improvement from me as well as from the car. It was nothing outstanding, but the feeling in the car was good and we’ve taken a step forwards on the chassis side. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s possible tomorrow.”
Team-mate Maldonado finished 16th in the first practice session and 15th in the second, despite suffering some issues with his Lotus. He spoke about how close the session was, and being two tenths of a second off the pace of Grosjean saw him four places lower in the standings.
“We had a couple of small issues today but we still got a good number of laps completed so we know where we can improve,” said Maldonado. “It’s a short lap here so the lap times are very close; I was just two tenths off Romain in the afternoon but that meant 15th rather than eleventh on the monitors.
“I was expecting a bigger gap on pace here but actually we’re not that far away from the front runners. We need to put everything together and we could go reasonably well tomorrow. We know we’re not where we want to be on straight line pace, and it’s going to be difficult to be in the top ten tomorrow.
“In terms of balance it’s not bad. Yes, we struggle to get as much temperature as we want in the tyres, which is giving us so extra issues with balance because of this. We have a few different things to improve this and the weather’s due to be hotter too. If we get the tyres where we want them to be, we’ll be more competitive than we were today.”
Speaking after the second practice session where the Venezuelan spent some time in the pit lane, he highlighted the issue that cost him some valuable track time.
“We had an issue where the DRS was not working properly and we had to change the wing which meant missing some track time in the afternoon,” reflected Maldonado. “It was a little frustrating, but certainly not the end of the world.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend, he is hopeful that he can qualify in or around the top ten, and is positive his first points finish of the season is not far away.
“It can be a long race here so we need to avoid taking any big risks. If we’re in or near the top ten in qualifying there’s always potential for a good points finish as anything can happen in the race.”