Mixed fortunes for Lotus
Romain Grosjean enjoyed a positive day after registering the Enstone-based outfit’s first top 10 grid position of the season. The Frenchman just squeezed through to the second session and easily made it to the top 10 shoot-out.
The slippery and wet weather conditions benefited the team and despite setting the slowest time in Q3, three tenths off the rest of the field, it was still a step in the right direction for Lotus after a difficult start to 2014.
The Renault-powered E22 didn’t make its debut until the second pre-season test and it has so far proved to be the most unreliable car on this year’s grid. However, good progress was made in China and Grosjean felt a better result could have been possible in qualifying.
“It is good to be in Q3,” he said. “We have made good progress this weekend. Things went better this morning than in qualifying this afternoon and so we had maybe even higher hopes. I’m not sure why we didn’t feel as much performance this afternoon than in FP3.
“I also suffered with the tyres and the conditions change a little from this morning too but it has been a while since we’ve been in Q3. We are hoping for a good race for tomorrow and hopefully we can stay in the top ten.”
However, he was the sole Lotus driver competing in qualifying. His team-mate Pastor Maldonado’s woeful weekend continued after a power-unit problem forced him to sit on the sidelines.
The Venezuelan had a disastrous Friday after a bizarre spin, after he was distracted by his steering wheel and drove off track, during first practice and a crash at the pit entry mid-way through the second session.
Despite failing to set a time in qualifying, he has been granted permission by the stewards to race after setting satisfactory lap times during free practice.
The 56-lap race looks set to take place in dry conditions, which could make Grosjean’s target of a top 10 finish quite a tough task. The 28-year-old showed decent dry weather pace in practice but he starts ahead of the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button.
Image courtesy of Lotus F1 Team
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.