The cruel hand of fate dealt a bitter blow for Lotus F1 at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix with both cars out of the race by the end of the first lap. Pastor Maldonado was pitched into a spin from behind, resulting in his car hitting the barriers, whilst Romain Grosjean suffered from a loss of power, and retired at the end of the first lap.
Grosjean started from P8 on the grid on his qualifying soft tyres, but suffered from an immediate loss of power, retiring at the end of the first lap. Maldonado started from P9 on the grid on his qualifying soft tyres, before being pitched into a spin and ending his race in the tyre barriers after the exit of turn 1.
Romain Grosjean, DNF, E23-02: “We had a loss of power on the formation lap; there was a technical issue which we are investigating. It’s not how you want to end your race, but we know the car is good and we’re miles ahead of where we were last season. 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 coming. The first race is always a bit of a tricky one, you never know what might happen and, unfortunately it was bad luck for us today but it doesn’t matter: I’m still very hopeful for the year.”
Pastor Maldonado, DNF, E23-03: “Racing is like this. It was quite a busy start, going into a narrow corner. I just felt a big hit on the back and didn’t see what happened. 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, so looking forward we can learn from this race. It was a good weekend until today – it’s looking quite promising. In two weeks we will be again fighting for points and again doing our best to be even more competitive.”
Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal: “What a frustrating day! Pastor’s race ended through no fault of his own and Romain’s race was over at the end of the first lap too. 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.”
Nick Chester, Technical Director: “A very short race for us to end a weekend full of promise. Pastor was an innocent victim whilst Romain suffered from a loss of power which we are investigating. We ran very reliably in pre-season testing, but sometimes certain issues don’t manifest themselves until the season starts. Everyone back in Enstone will get to the root of the issue and we’ll come back fighting in Malaysia. Fortunately today was one race in twenty and we’ve demonstrated over the course of the weekend that the E23 hybrid has tremendous potential. We can’t wait to exploit this potential once we get to Sepang.”