Lotus will leave Singapore wondering what might have been, after missing out on what could have been a potential double podium finish after Romain Grosjean was forced to retire following an engine problem.
Grosjean, who had been performing excellently all weekend, having outperformed his injury-stricken team-mate Kimi Raikkonen from Friday onwards, looked set for his first podium finish since the German Grand Prix.
However, the Frenchman was beset by an air pressure problem with his Renault engine, which despite a second pitstop, was deemed unfixable by the team, leading the Lotus man to retire his E21 on lap 37 of the race.
“The race was going pretty well and I think a second or third place finish was a realistic prospect”, said the 27-year-old. “We had a good strategy pitting under the safety car and we should have finished well, but unfortunately today my engine had other ideas.
“We lost air pressure and the team tried to fix the problem by topping it up with an additional pit stop, but that didn’t work so we had to retire which is never what you want to happen.”
Kimi Raikkonen, who suffered over the course of the Singapore weekend with a recurring back injury, believed to lead back to an accident in 2001, came home a fine third for Lotus, a return to form for the Finn following two pointless races at Spa and Monza.
The 33-year-old admitted that the result was encouraging, coming on the back of the team’s recent struggles, while ruing the time that he lost during practice, without which he believes he could have possibly achieved an even better result.
“It’s been a difficult weekend, so to finish on the podium is a good result”, said the 2007 champion. “The car felt good and it could have been even better if I’d been able to do more work in practice, but even with a better qualifying performance I think third was the maximum we could achieve today.”
Raikkonen also dismissed any notion that he had been disadvantaged by his back trouble during the race and affirmed that his focus was now on Korea, where his Lotus team ran strongly in 2012.
“The problem with my back hasn’t been ideal, but it felt much better than yesterday and I didn’t really notice it in the race, only afterwards. I have some time to recover before Korea and we were pretty strong there last year, so let’s see what we can do next time out.”
Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier was suitably disappointed to have seen Romain Grosjean’s race ruined by a reliability issue, but was pleased on the whole with the weekend, citing Kimi Raikkonen’s impressive drive from 13th to 3rd as a highlight.
Image courtesy of Lotus F1 Team