Lotus headed into Sepang and the Malaysia Grand Prix full of optimism after a challenging, yet promising race in Melbourne. The team, confident they had fixed the issues that plagued them during the first race of the season in Australia, settled into the tumultuous and steamy weather with a great deal hope. The track at Sepang is one of Pastor Maldonado’s favorites, the Lotus driver commenting that “It’s a good track, it’s always an exciting race because of the weather changes,” he said. “At the same time it’s tough to drive because of the extreme heat, it’s a long lap and a long race. Concentration and physical condition are both very important here.”
The Lotus team took to the track Friday ready for a solid practice and qualifying. Both Romain Grosjean and Maldonado made it through Q1, with Grosjean managing to squeeze in a few dry laps in Q2 before a deluge of rain descended upon the track. Maldonado, however, was not so lucky and did not get to the track until it was too late to make it to the next session. Despite the challenges in qualifying, Grosjean managed to grab eighth position and Maldonado took twelfth. The team, while having hoped for better position to start the race from, were satisfied and still confident in their cars and their ability to make it to the front of the pack.
Race day dawned extremely hot and sticky, with temperatures cresting over 60 degrees Celsius at times. As the lights went out Maldonado got a solid, quick start, launching his E23 into the mix. Grosjean, however, had a slightly slower, less productive start, but still managed to stay with the pack and in the hunt. Maldonado’s good fortune was unfortunately short lived as just a few laps into the race Valerie Bottas nicked his rear wheel and caused a puncture. Maldonado was forced to pit and faced a long, hard battle as he struggled to fight his way from the back of the field. In addition to the puncture, Maldonado experienced brake problems that would eventually cause him to retire and look forward to the next race.
Grosjean, however, recovered well from his slow start and was making good progress through the field when he was slowed by one of the Force India cars. Shortly after, the other Force India car tapped him and he spun dramatically. He was able to hold onto the car though and managed to get back onto the track and into the race. He finished eleventh, not in the points, but optimistic about the race and his future chances for success saying, “Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking.”
Lotus’s Malaysian Grand Prix was an exercise in overcoming challenges. The team, nonetheless, remains positive regarding the cars and their chances for points and podiums in the near future. Technical Director Nick Chester summed up the race well, saying, “We demonstrated good pace in qualifying and reasonable race pace in clear air in the very high temperatures here today. We’re very eager to get back out on track in Shanghai and we’re learning more about the E23’s potential every time it’s out on track.” While the Malaysian Grand Prix was something Lotus endured more than experienced, it was a race that revealed that in the midst of the great challenges the team faced, they possessed greater potential.
Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter- @audilvrs7. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport and @LWOSworld– and “liking” our Facebook page. Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our Formula 1 writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today! For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at sports injury alert. Have you tuned into Last Word On Sports Radio? LWOS is pleased to bring you 24/7 sports radio to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. What are you waiting for? GO!