After qualifying both cars inside the top ten on Saturday, hopes were high within the Lotus F1 Team camp that they could convert their grid positions into points during the Australian Grand Prix, but circumstances conspired to see them both out before the end of the opening lap.
Pastor Maldonado was the innocent victim of a chain reaction that started with the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen getting too close together at the first corner, which bunched up the field and meant the Venezuelan was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Raikkonen pushed the Sauber of Felipe Nasr into the Lotus drivers’ left rear wheel.
“Racing is like this,” reflected Maldonado. “It was quite busy start, going into a narrow corner. I just felt a big hit on the back and didn’t see what happened. It’s disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race.
“The pace of the car was looking much better than in qualifying, so looking forward we can learn from this race. It was a good weekend until today, it’s looking quite promising.
“In two weeks we will be again fighting for points and again doing our best to be even more competitive.”
Team-mate Romain Grosjean was also out early; a mechanical issue off the line saw him crawl to the pit garage and into retirement, but like Maldonado, the Frenchman is in a positive frame of mind heading into the season, believing in the potential of the car.
“We had a loss of power on the formation lap; there was a technical issue which we are investigating,” revealed Grosjean about his retirement. “It’s not how you want to end your race, but we know the car is good and we’re miles ahead of where we were last season.
“We have a good baseline with the E23 and a good engine. We also have new pieces that we are bringing over for the next races, so more performance coming.
“The first race is always a bit of a tricky one, you never know what might happen and, unfortunately it was bad luck for us today but it doesn’t matter: I’m still very hopeful for the year.”