The Lotus F1 Team arrive in Hungary for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix hopefully of a more competitive weekend than they have seen in recent races. Both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado enjoy the Hungaroring circuit, and will be looking to take the team’s first points since the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May.
Grosjean has fond memories of Hungary, having taken a podium finish in 2012 before being harshly punished for apparently overtaking Felipe Massa while off the track last year while in with a chance of another podium. He enjoys the track, despite it being one of the tightest and slowest on the calendar, and is hopeful of a stronger race than he has had in recent races having not scored a point since Monaco.
“I love Budapest and I love the Hungaroring,” said Grosjean. “It’s a place that I really look forward to visiting every year. It is usually sunny and hot and is just before the summer break so you give all the energy you have before you go on holiday. It is an exciting Grand Prix every year.
“It’s a great track and one that’s suited us in the past. It was great to be on the podium there in 2012. I can remember feeling frustrated that year as we did have a chance to be fighting for the win, but that didn’t work out because of traffic. I like the circuit with its style of up and downs and twisty corners. I like the feeling you get when driving on the track and the grip you get from it.
“I’ve been very quick in qualifying every time there. It’s a tight and twisty track so you do need a good qualifying result. We showed in 2012 that being on the front row certainly helps and last year’s P3 wasn’t too bad either. I did one of my best overtakes in my career in Formula 1 last year and I got penalised for a few small centimetres which was tough at the time…Nevertheless, it is hard to overtake at the Hungaroring making qualifying very, very important, as is the race strategy.
“Driving-wise, it’s not the most physically challenging in terms of high-speed corners, but the heat you experience in the cockpit can be quite an issue. It can also be a difficult circuit early in the weekend, as the track is not used very much, meaning it’s quite slippery when you first go out.”
Team-mate Maldonado feels the Grand Prix in Hungary is one of the best of the season, and he enjoys the challenge the circuit presents. He is optimistic that he can have a good weekend, and is eager to see how his Lotus car works on the tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit.
“The Hungarian Grand Prix is one of the best of the season,” said Maldonado. “We are very close to Budapest and I like the city very much. There is a big community of fans at the race weekend and the people are very friendly. On track, it can be very challenging. The weather is usually very hot there and it is very demanding from a physical point of view. It is one of the races that I enjoy best because of these demands and I really like the challenge that it presents. It has quite a slow speed layout, so we’ll be able to see how much improvement we’ve made on this type of configuration.
“Qualifying is so important at this track because of the small number of overtaking opportunities, but I’ve qualified well there in the past so hopefully I can deliver a strong performance that will give the team a boost as we head into the summer break. I have won there in other categories so the track has good memories for me. The fans create a great atmosphere and it’s always good to race at a track where there is a strong feeling like this.”
Just this week, Maldonado was confirmed by Team Principal Gerard Lopez to be remaining with the Lotus team for the 2015 season, when it is likely Mercedes will power the team rather than Renault. He clarifies that when he originally signed for the team for 2014, it was on a multiple year deal, so the announcement by Lopez did not come as a surprise for the Venezuelan.
“I joined Lotus F1 Team on a multi-year deal, but there is always talk and gossip in Formula 1 about drivers and teams,” said Maldonado. “We both know we haven’t had the first season either of us wanted in terms of results so this was a clear statement that we’re both committed to working together and getting results in the future. From my perspective, I’m fully behind Lotus F1 Team and I know we’ll achieve great things together.”
Lopez was happy to confirm Maldonado’s 2015 seat, and believes he has a potentially very good driver in his hands. He also confirmed that the team are still developing the 2014 car, while developing the car for next year too.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but as it’s half way through the season I can confirm 50% of our driver line-up for 2015 as Pastor is with us for next year,” said Lopez. “Despite the difficulties we’ve had so far this season, he recognises our true potential as a team and we recognise his true potential as a driver. We will achieve great things together.
“We do have some great things to come, but it’s important that the team is not stopping developing this year’s car as there is still a lot we can learn; we are going to fight hard for every point we can achieve this year. Looking forward, we have been able to take steps to ensure that 2014’s lessons have been learnt and we get back to where we want to be in 2015 – fighting for podiums.
“When we look at the team’s recent history we can see what is possible. In 2011 our car followed a unique development path with the forward facing exhausts. This concept didn’t give us the results we wanted but look how we bounced back in 2012 and 2013! Our 2014 car hasn’t given us the results we’ve wanted, so watch this space in 2015 and beyond!”