The Lotus F1 Team saw both drivers retire from the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, with Pastor Maldonado suffering another mechanical issue, while Romain Grosjean was forced to call it a day when he struck some debris that made his car un-driveable.
Grosjean was unlucky to clip the back of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia on the run out of La Source on the opening lap that necessitated a change of front wing that compromised his race, and then was forced to retire later on after hitting debris and making the car dangerous to drive. He felt the race pace was better than expected, and left Spa a little more encouraged than he arrived.
“The car was pretty good; the pace was much better than expected, which is encouraging,” reflected Grosjean. “Unfortunately the race was compromised early on, we had to change the nose on the first lap and we picked up some damage later on from debris on the track. We lost a lot of downforce as a result so we retired the car.
“We’re moving forward every weekend and learning a lot, though Monza is likely to be challenging too. Singapore should suit us a lot better.”
Team-mate Maldonado’s race was over on the second lap with a sudden loss of power caused by an apparent exhaust failure. He knew that Spa would be a challenge, and expects more of the same at Monza in two weeks time, but hoped to be fighting with the Sauber and Force India teams in Belgium.
“We were expecting a tough weekend – both here and Monza are challenging tracks for us – although the car seemed competitive and consistent today,” said Maldonado. “It might have been possible to fight with Sauber and Force India during the race. Unfortunately I felt a big loss of power at the end of the first lap and saw in the mirrors that the engine was smoking a lot so we had to retire.”
Deputy Team Principal of Lotus Federico Gastaldi insists the team are still working hard to get the best out of this year’s car, but was frustrated to see both drivers forced to retire.
“It was highly unfortunate that we had to retire both cars today,” said Gastaldi. “There is pace and the team is working extremely hard to extract every ounce of performance. We will regroup between now and Monza of course, and do everything we can to improve further. We’ll also keep looking for that pot of good luck.”
Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane reflected on a difficult race for the team, and will be looking into the reasoning to why both Grosjean and Maldonado were forced to end their races early.
“A tough race,” said Permane. “Romain sustained damage at the first corner, which meant we had to change the front wing at the end of that lap. We opted for the prime tyres and he was actually running very strongly from then on, although obviously a long way back.
“Unfortunately, he picked up some damage after his final pit stop which made the car a real handful for him – he radioed in that the car was dangerous, so the only sensible thing to do was retire.
“Pastor suffered from what looks to be an exhaust failure early on in the race. We’re investigating both cars to understand what happened.”