Romain Grosjean and his Lotus F1 Team looked to have turned the corner in Australia, with a top ten qualifying effort, but a mechanical issue at the start saw the Frenchman forced into the pits and into retirement at the end of the opening lap.
Grosjean had qualified ninth, just ahead of team-mate Pastor Maldonado, and would start eighth after the withdrawal of Valtteri Bottas, but was frustrated to see his race end so early as he felt points were certainly on the cards at Albert Park.
“It was frustrating to drive back to the pit at the end of the first lap, but despite this we’re all very positive in the team,” reflected Grosjean.
“Of course, there were a few choice expressions for a few moments afterwards, but we all have seen that this year’s car is good – it has great potential – and we know we’ll be delivering strong points finishes very soon.
“For myself, I spoke with the team straight after returning to the pits and we were quite quickly able to work out what had happened. One frustrating race doesn’t detract from the full season ahead.”
Grosjean believed despite his early exit from the Grand Prix in Australia, the team had a strong weekend, and believes the potential of the car is there to be a challenger for points and podiums.
“Albert Park was quite a strong weekend in terms of getting on top of the car,” continued Grosjean, “finding strong pace and a good balance and demonstrating good potential, but it was a very brief in terms of race laps, or should I say a race lap?!
“It was unfortunate that our race was very short because of quite a simple issue, but it’s something everyone back at Enstone has been working on. I’m sure we’ll have a much better race in Sepang.”
Looking ahead to Malaysia, Grosjean admits to enjoying the Sepang circuit, with the track offering numerous overtaking opportunities and the possibility of exciting races, with the added uncertainty over the weather that can change quickly as demonstrated in 2009 when the race was ended early by a deluge.
“It’s one of my favourites,” admitted Grosjean. “It has a great flow to it and there are good overtaking opportunities as well as good potential for an exciting race. It’s a circuit that many drivers like.
“It’s also an interesting track for the engineers working to get the best set-up for the car to work well. It makes for quite a hard race too, as you have the heat and humidity along with the challenge of the track itself. It’s a good track with some interesting corners, fast straights and a track surface that can sometimes be difficult to understand.
“The first challenges in Malaysia will be the heat, humidity and usual rain storms at 4pm! The heat and humidity can give the cars and drivers something to think about and the rain can give us all a challenge too.
“For us as a team, the target is to get some race laps on the board. Our target for the early races is to be regularly in the top ten. We certainly demonstrated that in Albert Park and our race pace simulations were good so if we’d remained in the race we should have finished strongly.
“There’s nothing to suggest this can’t be the case in Malaysia and we really want to start scoring points.”