Lotus drivers upbeat despite early exit in opener

LOTUS may have lost both their drivers by the end of the second lap in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, but Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado both voiced their optimism for the remainder of the season, after finally turning a corner from a disastrous 2014.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 E23 leads team mate Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 E23 on the formation lap

Maldonado was the unlucky casualty of a turn one contact between Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkönen and the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, while Grosjean’s engine began to misfire from the formation lap, eventually capitulating at the culmination of the second lap.

“I lost power from the formation lap, there was a technical problem from which we are investigating”, said Grosjean.

“It’s not how we wished to finish the race but we know that the car is good and we are a thousand miles ahead of where we were last season.”

“We have a good base and there will be new parts arriving in the coming races. The first race is always tricky and unfortunately we didn’t succeed today. But I remain confident for the season”, added Grosjean.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team

Lotus have come a long way since their nightmarish 2014 season where theyt struggled inexrably with the troublesome Renault engine. Since switching to the form motor Mercedes, the Enstone based team have turned a corner; highlighted by securing 9th (Grosjean) and 10th (Maldonado) on the starting grid.

After making the top 10 for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix last May, Grosjean expressed his joy in finally exiting the abyss of 2014.

“I was very happy to get back into Q3 and especially for those who have work very hard the last 12 months”, Grosjean said.

“We knew after the winter tests that we had a good car and Saturday was more or less what we expected. The [time] gaps have reduced and with an extra two tenths off, I would have been seventh”, add the Frenchman.

For Pastor Maldonado, the new season began in much the same tone as the whole of 2014. But the Venezuelan is a long way from a patchy form in which innumerable incidents truncated his season.

“That’s racing”, said Maldonado after his turn one crash.

“The start was quite intense, and the first corner was crowded. I just felt a bang at the rear but didn’t see anything at all.”

“It’s disappointing because we had a good chance of having a great race”, Maldonado lamented.

Start: trouble for Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 Team

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi also rued missed opportunities in a race that promised more. However, the Italian is confident that the team is on the right path for the remainder of the season.

“This is not the way any team wants to start the season and there were a few choice words in the garage when we realised our race was over so soon. It was particularly frustrating as we had great potential to deliver very strong results today.”

“The team is not downcast, however, and we have a lot of enthusiasm for the races ahead as we’ve seen what is possible from the season ahead. The whole vibe of the team is tremendously positive.”

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