Pastor Maldonado: “The flames showed the engine wasn’t working too well”

The Lotus F1 Team bid farewell to their troublesome E22 and to Renault after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Romain Grosjean finishing thirteenth, but Pastor Maldonado ended his year with a power unit failure that saw flames spouting from the rear of his car.

Grosjean had started eighteenth after changing parts of his power unit ahead of the race, and then took his drive-through penalty at the end of the opening lap, before settling down and managing to climb a few places up the order by the chequered flag. He passed the ailing Nico Rosberg on the final tour, but now is looking forward to the off-season and recharging his batteries before returning with the Mercedes-powered E23 in 2015.

“We did the best we could today,” insisted Grosjean. “My race wasn’t that eventful and unfortunately it came to an early end for Pastor, so I think that we are all glad that the season is now over. We thought about doing a three-stop strategy early in the race but then we swapped back to two stops.

“I’m already looking forward to being in the simulator to test the E23. We have a new Power Unit and aerodynamically next year’s car is looking like a great step forward. Now it’s time to take a break, recharge our batteries and look forward to 2015.”

Team-mate Maldonado was running competitively just outside the top ten but was forced to retire in spectacular fiery fashion on lap 27, ending his first season for Lotus early. He was disappointed to end the season in this fashion but is hopeful of a much more competitive season in 2015.

“That was a surprising race for me,” said Maldonado. “Our race pace was actually pretty good and I was able to fight with the Ferraris as well as enjoy the feel from the car. I was able to push and the car worked well on both tyre compounds.

“Unfortunately, my race had to end early. The flames showed the engine wasn’t working too well which also mean it was getting quite hot in the car! It’s a shame to finish a season like we did, but I know we have a lot of potential for 2015, so I am really looking forward to surprising some people when we return.”

Technical Director Nick Chester thanked Renault for their partnership that came to an end after twenty years in Abu Dhabi, but was a little saddened they could not bring both cars home, especially as he felt Maldonado was on course to at least challenge for points when he retired.

“Firstly, we must thank Renault Sport F1 for all the good times we have enjoyed over the many years of our relationship together,” said Chester. “It wasn’t quite the send-off we wanted, with disappointment for Pastor who suffered a Power Unit failure. He was running strongly in the race and our predictions show he would have finished quite closely to Ferrari, so close to the points.

“Romain struggled a little bit more on this first set of soft tyres so we opted for an early next stop, which meant a longer final stint. He did a very good job considering the penalties he had to serve early in the race.

“No doubt it’s been a tough season from which we have learnt a lot. We are already fully focused on 2015 and aim to come back much stronger next season.”