It was another disappointing Grand Prix for the Lotus F1 Team as both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado struggled for pace and finished the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi in the lower reaches of the top twenty.
Despite Grosjean feeling more comfortable with the car during the race than he had for the rest of the weekend, he could not get a better result than seventeenth. He admitted struggles with getting his tyres up to temperature, but was unable to hold off the Sauber drivers. He was handed a five second penalty for tipping Adrian Sutil into spin, an incident the Frenchman believed was just a racing incident.
“The car felt okay to drive today, which was a big improvement on the previous two days and a testament to the work the team has put it over the week,” said Grosjean. “The main challenge was the race start. It was hard to get the tyres up to temperature over the first few laps, so much so that I thought I had a puncture at the beginning.
“After that, it was a straight-forward race aside from the incident with Adrian Sutil. He was on the softer tyres and had a lot more grip than me going into T3. That corner closes up a bit on exit and he didn’t want to go too much off the racing line. I was already on the maximum for the braking zone and we just touched a little. It felt more like a racing incident to me but never mind, we head to Austin and hope for better things.”
Team-mate Maldonado followed his team-mate home in eighteenth, and admitted a struggle for grip was the main cause of his failure to move up the order, but admitted he enjoyed the track layout and hopes to return in 2015 with a faster Lotus car, which will have Mercedes power next season.
“We really struggled for balance on track today and it made for a very tough race for us,” reflected Maldonado. “We started on the medium tyre, which made it difficult to make progress in the early laps. We then moved to the soft compound, but even late in the race it was a struggle to find grip.
“My side of the garage lost out quite a lot from our issues on Saturday as we weren’t able to improve the car and in particular the balance. It was frustrating, as we really wanted to put on a good show as the Sochi Autodrom is a fantastic circuit. I can’t wait to return next year in a faster car with a different tyre allocation as there is fantastic potential here.”