Romain spun out to dry whilst Pastor gets punctured and brakes down.
The second race of the 2015 Formula 1 season was another of unfulfilled promise for Lotus F1 Team with Romain Grosjean running as high as third but being tipped out of point-scoring potential, whilst Pastor Maldonado suffered from a puncture at the beginning of the race and a brake issue at the end.
A hot and sticky Sepang – with a track temperature over 60°C at times – gave drivers and cars alike an extreme test, but the start of the race saw a good getaway from Pastor, but a slightly tardier one from Romain.
Pastor soon had a rear puncture courtesy of the very gentlest of caresses from the front wing of Valtteri Bottas, meaning an early and unscheduled visit to the pits and after that a difficult fight back from the rear, which ultimately ended nine laps shy of the chequered flag.
“Unfortunately there was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on,” explained Pastor.
“Despite dropping to the very back fo the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well. Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn’t great but it’s effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix.
“As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points. The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points.”
Romain meanwhile was able to make good progress in the early stage of the race, though he suffered from being unable to get past one Force India, then subsequently was tipped into a dramatic 360° by the other. After this he came home in eleventh position, just shy of the points.
“Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking,” said Romain.
“I lost a lot of time behind Nico Hulkenberg and then the spin with Sergio Perez in such a fast corner. I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it.
“I also had an issue with my drinks bottle which added to the fun. Overall the car behaved well though and we’re not far from the top ten so we’ll work to close the gap for China."
Both Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi and Technical Director Nick Chester concluded that the Malaysian Grand Prix was something of a missed opportunity for the squad.
"Today was about unfulfilled potential,” said Federico.
“Both Pastor and Romain could have scored strongly but events out of their hands meant they did not. That’s motor racing sometimes and we’re firmly focused on China to open our points account.”
Nick confirmed, “we demonstrated good pace in qualifying and reasonable race pace in clear air in the very high temperatures here today. We’re very eager to get back out on track in Shanghai and we’re learning more about the E23’s potential every time it’s out on track.”