The Lotus F1 Team have long admitted defeat in getting the 2014 E22 to be competitive and have been concentrating on next years E23, but they still have ambitions of ending the season by scoring their first points since May. Romain Grosjean returns to scene of one of his most impressive results of 2013 in the United States this weekend, while Pastor Maldonado is looking to end a baron run of non-points finishes that stretches back 26 races to the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Grosjean had an excellent race at Austin back in 2013, finishing second only to the all-dominant Sebastian Vettel, and admits that he likes the circuit and the whole facility. He knows that like in pretty much every other race this season he will be after more grip from his car.
“It looks great and the first time I walked around it in 2012 I thought wow,” said Grosjean. “The gradient up to turn one is really something and it makes for a fun first corner when you’re in the car. It’s a really well presented facility with an interesting circuit layout.
“It’s quite a balanced circuit in that you don’t need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well. In the first year the challenge was finding the level of grip we want and we did see the same to a certain extent last year too. This year, we should be helped a bit by the race being a couple of weeks earlier, but we’re always wanting more grip!”
Despite not having scored points since the Monaco Grand Prix in May and having to struggle just to get out of the first part of qualifying on occasions, the Frenchman is amazed at just how quickly the season has gone by. He is also keen to see how the nose the team is trialling in Austin looks and works on the E22 as they work towards their 2015 car.
“It’s amazing just how quickly this season has passed, even if it seemed a long, hard slog at times,” said Grosjean. “We head to Austin, Brazil and Abu Dhabi determined to get the most we can from the race weekends and also using some of the practice time to evaluate different aspects of the car to gain more data for 2015.
“The E22’s nose is pretty distinct so it will be unusual seeing it with something different on the front. This is part of the team’s evaluations for 2015, and the nose is designed to gather information for next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like, but my main focus is the race weekend.”
Team-mate Maldonado has yet to break his points duck in 2014, but is hoping for better reliability in the United States than at Sochi three weeks ago, and is hoping the Austin circuit suits his car more than the track in Russia did. He is also hoping for a boost from the fans that will travel up from Venezuela for the event.
“Obviously we want to perform better than we did in Sochi,” said Maldonado. “That was a difficult weekend for many reasons. We think the Austin layout should suit our car a bit better so that’s a positive. Hopefully we won’t have any more technical issues. I know we’ll have good support from the fans so we’ll be pushing for a good result.”
Despite his lacklustre results, the Venezuelan has felt the season has gone extremely fast, and is determined to end the year by securing his first points for the team, although he admits he is looking forward to getting this season over with so he can drive the Lotus E23 next season that will be powered by Mercedes for the first time.
“Nineteen races seem to fly by, even when you’re not having the season performance you want,” insisted Maldonado. “There have been so many changes for this year. Though the year has gone quickly, it still seems like Albert Park was such a long time ago! We have three races left to try to get some more points on the board. We know that won’t be easy with the strength of the competition, but it’s something we still try for. The final three races of 2014 are all great events so we really want to finish as strongly as we can.
“We still have three races left in 2014 so that is our priority, but it’s no secret that we are all looking to 2015 with a lot of excitement. It will be my second season with Lotus F1 Team and we have worked well together in 2014. There will be a lot of changes to the car and the team is very positive about the potential of next year’s chassis.”