Eighth and eleventh are where the two Lotus F1 Team cars will line up for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix with the two drivers suffering from two very different qualifying sessions.
Romain Grosjean will start in eighth place in Shanghai, with the Frenchman believing that changes to the car’s balance have helped his progress but that he couldn’t reach any higher and is focussing on a race he believes could be decided on tyre saving strategy.
“It was a very tight qualifying session which made it very exciting in the car and I’m sure exciting to watch too,” he explained. “We made some good changes from yesterday which gave me a nice balance and I think that was about the best possible from the car at the moment. It’s going to be a long race and I think the key will be to take care of your front left tyres. I’m enjoying driving the E23 and I think we’ve found a strong baseline set-up which is important for me.”
However, balance is one thing still plaguing his team mate Pastor Maldonado with the Venezuelan not 100% confident on a track that is giving him snap oversteer: “I expect to fight in Q3 but it’s been harder for me so far this weekend than it has in the previous two races. For whatever reason we’ve struggled through the weekend to find the right balance from the car which means I can’t be fully confident to push on this type of track. That said, I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we’re stronger on race pace so will be much more competitive hunting down those points we want.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director at Lotus, was realistic with where the Lotus E23 is at the moment, but still praised the good work done by Romain and Pastor: “We qualified where we should have done with the current pace of the E23, meaning both drivers did good jobs. Romain made cleaner progress through the sessions and was able to get a strong final lap for his P8 position. Pastor didn’t have the cleanest of laps at the end of Q2 so was unlucky to just miss out on being in the top ten.”