Although both drivers once again failed to score any points, Grosjean was in the running to finish in the top ten until a gearbox problem forced him to retire. Maldonado’s weekend was marred by lots of on track errors and car problems, but he eventually brought the car home in 14th place. Nevertheless, Lopez is full of hope heading to the start of the European season in Spain next month.
“In China we saw a clear step up from Renault,” he explained to journalists. “The guys are almost talking about two seconds, which is huge.
“The stopwatch doesn’t lie. We moved two seconds forward in terms of performance. That’s why the weekend in China was a positive one for us in a certain way.
“I feel almost ashamed to say it was positive when we didn’t score points, but it is in the sense we know we have the absolute ability to be in a scoring position.”
Lotus ended 2013 under a dark cloud as its financial problems dominated the headlines. Kimi Raikkonen was just one of a number of high profile names that left Enstone, with former team boss Eric Boullier being the last in January. The team then missed the first test in Jerez, and has been on the back foot ever since; merely completing two-thirds of the race in Australia was deemed to be an achievement.
Now, Lopez believes that points will be on the cards at the Spanish Grand Prix as engine supplier Renault continues to catch up after starting the season on the back foot.
“Renault is promising a fairly interesting step up for Barcelona,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff coming for Barcelona too, but then so will the other teams, so we don’t think everybody else will be stopping and we will be on our own. But we’re pretty hopeful of being in the top 10, and from then on it’s fighting it out with whoever is there.”
Images courtesy of Lotus F1 Team.