The 2014 Japanese Grand Prix was run under the wrath of a descending typhoon and the ominous rumbling of a nearby volcano. Practices, qualifying, and even the running of the race itself, came into question, and under fire. Several accidents occurred, including one in which Jules Bianchi was taken to the hospital. Team Lotus, however, kept working amid the chaos and managed to bring both of their cars home safely in fifteenth and sixteenth place, respectively.
Lotus’ Japanese Grand Prix
The race both started and ended with the pace car leading the way in a torrential downpour of rain. For the drivers up front the conditions on the track were somewhat better, though they still posed a challenge. For those in the mid to back of the pack, they were unbelievable, the spray was so thick that seeing the front of their own car, much less the one in front of them, presented a problem. Romain Grosjean commented that the “spray made it very difficult to see and the amount of water on track meant we were aquaplaning a lot.” Grosjean went on to say that the “car seemed quite good at times but we also used up our tyres quickly, so it was a big challenge today.” Grosjean did manage, however, to battle the elements and bring his car home safely. He said that above all else his thoughts were with Jules Bianchi, a sentiment seconded by his teammate Pastor Maldonado who was quoted as saying, “Most importantly, my thoughts and prayers are with Jules tonight, I hope he is okay.”
Malonado also said the track was “tricky” from the get-go but felt they had been “doing quite well”. Strategy was key, especially with the weather conditions and this was something Maldonado felt they had done well with, enabling them to “make some good moves,” but also qualifying it with saying “you had to be very careful where to push”. Deputy Team Principle, Federico Gastaldi said that he felt “both drivers drove very well under very trying circumstances to bring both cars home after numerous visits to the pits.” The cars were both stable and showed consistency during the race, in spite of the poor conditions. Lotus has been struggling with track position and gaining points all season but they managed, in what ended up being one of the most difficult races of the year so far, to hold their own and find a set up that worked regardless of the circumstances.
The primary focus of the team, however, at the end of the race was not their cars but their collective concern for Jules Bianchi. Federico Gastaldi, summarized them by saying that “Our thoughts are with him, his team and family.” Team Lotus had managed to race through the rain and their drivers had brought the cars home safely in a race where that alone seemed to be a tremendous feat.
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