Romain Grosjean finished just outside the points in eleventh position but Pastor Maldonado retired in a testing Malaysian Grand Prix for the Lotus F1 Team.
Grosjean had been running inside the top five early in the race when he did not pit behind the safety car, but had his chance of points ended when he was pitched into a high-speed spin by the Force India of Sergio Perez at turn 12 on lap 31.
“Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking, although I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg and then the spin with Perez in such a fast corner,” said Grosjean.
“I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it. I also had an issue with my drinks bottle, which added to the fun.
“Overall the car behaved well though and we’re not far from the top ten so we’ll work to close the gap for China.”
Maldonado retired nine laps before the end with a brake issue, but had his race compromised on the opening lap when the Williams of Valtteri Bottas clipped his rear wheel and gave the Venezuelan a puncture. He remains positive about the potential of the car, and hopes for a clean race so he can secure the team’s first points of the season.
“The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points,” said Maldonado. “Unfortunately there was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on.
“Despite dropping to the very back of the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well. Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn’t great but it’s effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix.
“As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points.”
Maldonado was given three penalty points post-race after exceeding the required safety car time early in the race that also earned the Venezuelan a ten-second penalty during the race. He now has eight points on his licence, with a driver taking a race ban when he gets to twelve points within a twelve month period, although three of those points will disappear following the Chinese Grand Prix.