Fire forces early end to Lotus’ day

Fire forces early end to Lotus’ day

Maldonado-LotusLotus called an early end to testing for the second time in as many days after fire at the rear of the car curtailed the Enstone-based squad’s running on day two of the final pre-season test in Bahrain.

All Pastor Maldonado managed in his E22 on Friday were a paltry 31 laps of the 5.4 kilometer Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, following a troubled opening day of the test during which the squad was struck by an exhaust issue that also limited their running to just 31 laps and forced them to end their day early.

“It was a tough day for us with the fire,” the former Williams driver, who ended the day tenth on the timesheets with a time of one minute 41.613, said at the end of Friday’s running.

“We need to keep working and for sure it’s not an ideal situation for the team, or for me but we need to keep focus, work together and I hope for the future we can be better.”

Lotus, like other Renault-powered teams, has had a difficult build up to a season featuring the most sweeping rule changes in a generation.

The new rules, with a switch to smaller hybrid 1.6 litre turbocharged engines packed with all manner of complex energy recovery systems at their heart, mean it is vital for teams to get as much running under their belts ahead of the season as possible.

But, the outfit, which opted to skip the first pre-season test at Jerez, has only managed to put in 173 laps in the six days of testing since and were hoping to run trouble-free during the final three days of the test.

“Clearly this is not how we wanted to spend our day, but our focus is getting the most from the remaining days of the test,” Alan Permane, the team’s trackside operations director said, adding that the team were yet to pinpoint the cause of the fire.

“We’re inspecting the chassis and installation very carefully to deduce the cause of the fire and rectify any issues we find.”

For Maldonado, Friday was his last day of running before the season kicks off in two weeks’ time with practice for the Australian Grand Prix, and the Venezuelan will be handing the car over to team-mate Romain Grosjean for the final two days of the test.

He has only driven 147 laps in pre-season testing and has not been able to conduct any race simulations, not an ideal way to be going into a season in which managing fuel consumption during races will be key.

“Today was my last day of pre-season testing so it will be very interesting when we get to Australia.”

Images courtesy Lotus F1 Team