The Lotus F1 Team will see the back of their troublesome E22 car after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, with both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado hoping to end their seasons with top ten finishes in the desert.
Grosjean believes the Yas Marina circuit is a first-rate facility with a good track, and that the twilight race makes it even more special. With both the race and qualifying being held late in the day, he understands the importance of getting the car set-up right during free practice two on Friday with the other two practice sessions being held earlier in the day.
“I think it’s a good track with very nice paddock facilities which in my opinion are amongst the best on the calendar,” said Grosjean. “It’s also a very special Grand Prix given that it starts in the day and finishes under lights, which makes it incredible for the fans as they can see through our visors and watch how hard we are concentrating.
“However, it is very difficult to work on car set-up in FP1 and FP3 as conditions are not representative of those you’ll find in qualifying and the race. Therefore, FP2 becomes even more important for both the engineers and myself, which makes it a rather pressurized session.
“It’s a circuit with low-speed corners – so it’s one we may have a few problems with – but I’m confident we can dial-in the car to achieve the maximum result possible. Pastor and I will be doing everything we can.”
Grosjean believes the team will need to rely on some good luck and clever decisions on Sunday to finish the year with a top ten finish, with the Frenchman himself looking to secure his first points since his eighth place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix in May.
“We’ve got a few upgrades coming which should give us a bit more power and with double points on offer, you never know,” said Grosjean. “We are going to try our hardest to get the best result we can and create a positive mood over the winter for the team back in the factory. When things aren’t going right for you, it’s difficult on everyone so a bit of positively will help the whole team.
“Pastor and I will be trying our utmost to bring back some strong points. Sometimes a bit of luck and some clever decisions is all you need to achieve great results, and that’s what we’ll be aiming for on Sunday.”
Team-mate Maldonado feels the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is special, with the facilities at the circuit amongst the best in the world. In 2012, he had a very strong race at the track, finishing fifth for Williams, and is hoping this year will see him having another positive result.
“It’s always a special event and with it being the final race on the calendar this year, it’s going to be even more exciting,” said Maldonado. “Away from the track, the people are always really welcoming, the weather is great and the place is spectacular. The pit and paddock complex is also amongst the best there is with excellent facilities.
“The first sector at the circuit stands out with Turns 2, 3 and 4 being particularly enjoyable and the final sector is incredibly picturesque. Although it is a reasonably new track on the calendar, the team has built up a lot of data from the five previous races there and various post-season testing sessions, so we’re used to the challenging set-up dilemma it poses.
“It’s a twilight race so it’s all about finding a balance between the hot daytime conditions and cooler temperatures when the sun sets. I’m sure it’s going to be one of the best races of the year. It’s been fun driving there in the past so I’m hoping to have another good race at Yas Marina.”
The Venezuelan believes Abu Dhabi might be tough for the team, but feels if they can secure a top twelve qualifying position on Saturday then they should be able to challenge for points on Sunday.
“I think it’s going to be tough for us in general to be honest but it shouldn’t be too bad,” insisted Maldonado. “I think it’s crucial that we try and improve our qualifying pace because as soon as we are in the top twelve, things should be on the up and we’ll be in a good position to fight for points.
“We’ve seen that our race pace is quite competitive so it’s all about starting from the highest grid position possible. We know this is an area we need to make big strides forwards and Romain and I are working closely with the engineers to improve our qualifying results.”