Both Lotus F1 Team drivers were eliminated in the first part of qualifying at Interlagos, but neither Romain Grosjean nor Pastor Maldonado were very far away from the cut-off point in a very close session, with both drivers hopeful of an improved performance during the race on Sunday.
Grosjean missed out on making it through to the second part of qualifying by less than a tenth of a second, but feels the team have been making positive progress with his car this weekend. He believes that in a dry race, the soft Pirelli tyres will suffer on the new asphalt, with the medium tyre the likely tyre of choice for the majority of the Grand Prix.
“We knew this afternoon’s qualifying would be very close and it looks like some teams found more pace today than we did which means we didn’t quite make it through Q1,” said Grosjean. “The team has done a lot of work on my car overnight and it felt a lot better this morning – it’s not yet 100% where I want it to be, but it’s going in the right direction. Everyone in the team is working hard and it’s great to be part of it.
“For tomorrow, we’ll do our best and we should be able to improve. The soft tyres don’t seem to like the track too much, so managing them in the race will be an important consideration. After that we just have to push as much as possible on the mediums.”
Maldonado was the slowest in the first part of qualifying but believes he has a good car underneath him that he hopes will come alive during the race, much like in Austin last week where he secured his first points of the season. He will move up two places on the grid thanks to the penalties for Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez.
“It might not look like it from the lap time in qualifying, but I think we have a good car here, and certainly for the race,” said Maldonado. “We were not able to put everything in the right place today and it’s a bit disappointing for qualifying, but the race is where it matters. It’s a very long race, and it’s usually quite a challenging one.
“With the way our car has been performing during the practice sessions I think we can fight for the points. If it rains, I think we can still be competitive and starting from where we are on the grid, maybe rain is good for us!”