After both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado showed the Lotus E23 Hybrid’s potential by qualifying in the top ten, cruel fate ended any chance of points after just two corners.
Romain felt the impact of bad luck before the flag was waved, with a loss of power noticeable on the formation lap.
Unable to recover, when the race began the Frenchman fell down the order and, despite his best efforts, was forced to bring the car into the garage and retire the E23 Hybrid.
“I lost power on the formation lap,” said Romain. “I was unable to recover the power and we’re not sure where the issue came from. It’s a shame but it’s the first race and anything can happen and unfortunately it was bad luck for us today.”
He was soon joined by Pastor who, in contrast to his Lotus team-mate, had found plenty of speed to surge up the grid on the straight.
That aspect made it all the more frustrating when a mistake from a fellow competitor on the grass at the end of turn one forced another car to tag Pastor at turn two.
“It’s a busy early corner and it’s been a tricky one in the past,” he said. This is especially true in the middle of the corner.”
The Venezuelan’s best efforts were unable to prevent the E23 from a spin that ended in the wall with the car damaged.
“Racing is like this,” said Pastor. “It was quite busy start, going into a narrow corner. At the start we gained three or four place which was promising.”
“I just felt a big hit on the back and didn’t see what happened. It’s difficult to say who is at fault for the incident, all I felt was the contact.”
“It’s disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race. The pace of the car was looking much better than in qualifying. It was a good weekend until today, it’s looking quite promising.”
It was a hard result to take after progress in the winter, but the progress made in testing has Romain confident Malaysia will be a different story to Australia.
“We know the car is good and we’re miles ahead of where we were last season,” he said. “We have a good baseline with the E23 and a good engine. We also have new pieces that we are bringing over for the next races, so more performance is coming.”
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi rued the bad luck that curtailed the chase for points but, like the drivers, believes progress will show in future races.
“What a frustrating day,” he said. “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.”
From Lotus F1 News,