Lotus F1 Team endured a disappointing qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix with Romain Grosjean classified fifteenth and Pastor Maldonado sixteenth at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace at Interlagos, São Paulo.
Both drivers had displayed promising pace in the morning FP3 session where Romain was seventh fastest and Pastor ninth, but this sadly did not translate to the afternoon qualifying. A ten position grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo means both drivers gain one position on the starting grid.
“Qualifying didn’t go the way I wanted,” said Romain, whose FP3 best of 1mins 13.437secs shaded his Q2 1min 13.913secs.
“The car felt good this morning and good in Q1. In the first run in Q2 I made a mistake and then I’m not sure what happened in the second run in Q2. I lost the rear end of the car in turn 6 and it was the end of the session.
“It is a shame and we need to understand what happened and work on it. We were optimistic to reach Q3 and be in a good position on the grid tomorrow when taking into account other driver penalties.
“I expect a tough race tomorrow but it will be a good fight to come back to the front. It’s a circuit where it is possible to overtake so we will push hard and hopefully score some good points.
Pastor meanwhile wasn’t happy with qualifying from the outset.
“It was a tough session,” he said after setting a 1min 13.385secs lap.
“We expected to be more competitive this afternoon but unfortunately we weren’t. We had been trying a number of different set-ups with the car to improve the feeling especially the rear of the car. Hopefully we will have better pace to have a solid race and be more competitive tomorrow.”
As for possibilities in the race, Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane shares the drivers’ sentiments that all is not lost.
“We have a lot of work to do, but a decent result is still possible,” he said.
“The E23 looked encouraging on long runs and in tomorrow’s race we expect quite a bit of tyre degradation. If we make the correct strategy calls and both drivers have clean and strong races we should work our way forwards a decent amount. It’s not all over yet.