Third time's the charm
Romain Grosjean ensured Lotus F1 Team took its first points of the 2015 season at the third time of asking, while a braking issue hampered Pastor Maldonado before later retiring at the Chinese Grand Prix.
A solid qualifying performance the day before gave both drivers a platform for a top ten finish and the pair set about climbing the order swiftly from the start.
Romain was particularly quick off the line and entered an immediate battle with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, overcoming him on the opening corners to take seventh.
His team-mate also showed the E23 Hybrid’s pace, moving into the top ten and quickly setting about closing in on Nasr’s team-mate Ericsson.
It took just three laps for Pastor to move past both Saubers and he climbed to eighth behind Romain before the pits.
There were early stops for the pair, with Pastor first in on lap 11 before Romain followed a lap later to swap from softs to the medium tyres.
While some on the grid struggled with the medium compound, it was business as usual for Romain and Pastor as they swiftly moved from the outside of the top ten back to seventh and eighth respectively.
Running comfortably, the turning point came on lap 33 as a braking issue caused Pastor to brake late and lock up, missing the pit entry. He avoided the barriers, but lost plenty of time in his stop.
“I made a great start and we were running strongly early on however later I had a braking issue which made it harder to battle,” he said. “We also have to understand why the brakes locked-up so easily coming into the pits. We lost a lot of time here and it compromised the rest of my race.”
With chances of a top ten place fading, a spin caused him to lose further time and saw him engage in a battle with the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Pastor had the pace and looked to have made swift work of both but Button was unable to avoid making contact with the rear of Pastor’s E23, forcing him off the track.
“It was a fantastic battle with Jenson and we were passing each other very cleanly; a good, fun, exciting battle,” he said. “Unfortunately, it looks like he got his braking point wrong and went into the back of me. This can easily happen when you’re fighting for position, braking off-line and using DRS, so it’s just one of those things.”
Bodywork damage and worsening braking issues meant the Venezuelan’s race ended there, retiring with five laps to go.
His team-mate’s controlled drive up ahead meant he was able to cross the line in seventh, securing the team’s first points, in comfortable fashion.
“It’s the best we could do today and it’s satisfying to have achieved the team’s first points of the season,” said Romain. “I’m proud of everyone at Enstone and at the track.”
“We’ve made a good job improving the car race after race and it’s great to finally score points. The next race could be promising too!"
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi was happy to break the team’s point scoring duck, targeting more in Bahrain.
"It feels great to gets points on the board and get that particular monkey off our back,” he said. Romain performed strongly all weekend and his seventh position is just reward. The team is buoyed by Romain’s result and we’re looking forward to increasing our tally in Bahrain.”