An eventful afternoon in Budapest saw Romain seventh and Pastor experience a race he’d rather forget after a highly entertaining and eventful 30th edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Both Lotus F1 Team drivers were tardy off the line after a second formation lap, a characteristic shared by the front-row Mercedes duo ceded the leading two positions to their Ferrari rivals.
With overtaking notoriously difficult at the tight and twisty Hungaroring it was looking like a long afternoon for Romain and Pastor. Romain started on his qualifying soft tyres, Pastor ran a contrary strategy to the rest of the field, starting on the harder tyres before switching to the softer, and quicker, softs.
That was the plan at least, but a naughty Force India front wing winged it away from the rest of Nico Hulkenberg’s car bringing out the safety car. The resultant flurry of pit lane activity changed the complexion of the race for many, and proved beneficial for the black and gold cars.
Through a bevy of other incidents including a healthy number of penalties through the field, Romain was able to work up as high as sixth, before succumbing to Lewis Hamilton’s fightback. Romain, however, was able to keep the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg behind him across the line.
“I think today was an incredible race; it was an incredible weekend,” said Romain.
“Being in the top ten in qualifying yesterday was a miracle and today was actually beautiful; we really pushed hard and it was good, we deserved some points. I had a terrible start, lost a lot of spaces and I was pushed into the gravel by Carlos Sainz on the first lap. Then I came back on track and couldn’t pass the McLaren. Then there was a penalty for an unsafe release and then the safety car. But we got the strategy right and, after all that, we ended up in P7 fighting with the Mercedes.”
Whilst Romain’s race was eventful and ultimately fruitful, Pastor’s was eventful and plentiful with penalties.
Contact with Sergio Perez’s Force India as the Mexican overtook around the outside saw a drive-through, which was the same penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Overtaking under the safety car saw a ten second addition to Pastor’s race time.
“It was tough race and the Stewarts were certainly very strict today, very tough on driving with me and many other drivers,” said Pastor.
“I struggled at the start as our strategy was to run with the harder tyres, but then the strategy was working well with the softer tyres until the penalties affected our race. With Sergio around the outside of me it felt like a racing incident to me; there was nothing intentional in the contact."
Aside from the performance from Lotus F1 Team, it was a highly entertaining and eventful race.
“Today we saw a great race illustrating the never give up attitude from everyone at Enstone. Romain scored a nice tally of points and it’s a pity that Pastor was unable to join him in the top ten as he certainly looked set to finish there too,” said Deputy Team Principal, Federico Gastaldi.
“We started the weekend pretty far down the timesheets, but we improved every day. The E23 is a great car which still has further potential to perform strongly. It was a fantastic race to watch too; amazing for the spectacle and it illustrates that Bernie Ecclestone and Tamas Rohonyi can put on a great show at the fabulous Hungaroring.”