Smiles were out in force at the Belgian Grand Prix when an exceptional drive from Romain Grosjean saw the Lotus F1 Team return to the podium for the first time since the 2013 US Grand Prix. Starting from ninth on the grid thanks to a five-place grid penalty, Romain raced to a third-place finish, delivering a superbly measured performance which featured plenty of overtaking from the Frenchman along with setting a race fastest lap.
“It has been an incredible weekend for us,” reflected Romain. “A great qualifying yesterday, unfortunately we had the grid penalty, and a good race. I still can’t believe that we are on the podium. Those guys have been working hard to give us that car to be able to be here today. Being here today is kind of special I think, it has the feel of a race win.”
The team’s joy was somewhat bittersweet following a second-lap retirement from Pastor Maldonado when his car lost drive, having started seventh on the grid: “We had been doing a great job this weekend, especially yesterday,” said Pastor. “The car was feeling very good, very competitive and I had a good race start. We had an issue with the drive of the car which the team are investigating. I’m disappointed about the issue we had today but that’s racing sometimes. We are keeping focussed for the next race now and Romain has shown what is possible. I love Italy and Monza so I’ll be doing everything I can for a strong result there."
Technical Director Nick Chester also felt Pastor had great potential for a good result: “We haven’t looked at everything on Pastor’s car yet but we know there was a big excursion over the kerbs which appears to have caused some damage to the power box so a big shame as he should also have achieved a strong result here."
Moving on to Romain’s performance, Nick said: "That was quite a race from Romain and the team! We were buoyed after yesterday’s P4 qualifying performance then today he drove a fantastic measured race. He drove brilliantly and made all the correct decisions with some fabulous overtaking. He looked after the tyres when he needed to and pushed when he needed to. It was the perfect race from him.”
Romain’s result means Lotus F1 Team return to fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I was really closing the gap on Seb.” commented Romain, looking back on his race. “It’s very unfortunate he had that puncture and it was a bit of a scary moment just being behind. I think we got everything we could get today, starting from P4 on the grid I’m sure we would have had a much easier race but it was really good fun. All the overtaking into Turn Five, I was really taking it as hard as I could on brake. Probably one of my best races ever. Being able to be on the podium with how we are during the weekend shows how strong our guys, and how strong we’re capable of building a car and be there. It was a great race, I enjoyed every minute and if we can do it again, let’s go.”