The Lotus F1 team endured a difficult Austrian Grand Prix qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring, with both Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean being eliminated in the second stage of the session.
Maldonado out-qualified his team-mate Grosjean for the first time in 2014, and will line-up on the grid in thirteenth. He feels the race pace of the Lotus is much better than its single-lap speed, and is confident to be challenging for his first points of the season on Sunday.
“I hope to be fighting for the points, and certainly for the top 10,” said Maldonado. “I think that we have a good car, especially in race conditions, but it will also depend on the race start and of course, the strategy, but hopefully it will be good!
“We aren’t where we want to be but it is not too bad considering where we have come from. Since yesterday we’ve made a good step forward. We have made various changes to improve the performance of the car, and we also changed the engine for today’s qualifying. Yesterday we ran with a new one, which we found to have some issues with, so we decided to go back to the one we had at the previous race.
“We felt more competitive in today’s sessions in regards to speed. This morning we did a lot of work with set up and balance and that made me more comfortable in the car even though we had expected more and are still suffering from a lack of power. I know that we have potential on long runs so hopefully we will have a good race on Sunday.”
Team-mate Grosjean struggled to sixteenth fastest in qualifying, but will start fifteenth after the penalty for Sergio Perez is applied. He feels the straight-line speed of the Lotus is not one of the cars strengths, and he predicts overtaking will be difficult because of this disadvantage.
“Since yesterday we have been between 14th and 15th place,” said Grosjean. “Pastor did a great last lap but we haven’t managed to do better despite the fact that we have improved since yesterday. Yes, we have worked in the right direction so that’s positive, and we will continue that way: to work, understand the car better and unlock all of its potential to make real steps forward.
“Honestly, anything is possible. To start, we will choose the best strategy possible in terms of tyres and see what we can do to differentiate ourselves from the others. The new tyres are a bit tricky for us to make them work the way we want them to and perhaps this is why we were rather competitive on long runs yesterday as opposed to short runs or single laps. Certainly overtaking will be tricky as our top speed has not been one of our strengths this year but we’ll look for a good strategy or maybe a shortcut on the track to help us in the race!”