Date: 19th March 2014 at 7:52am
Written by:

The Australian Grand Prix race weekend was one to forget for the Lotus team.

The Enstone based team enjoyed an excellent 2013 season, with Romain Grosjean really developing into one of the best drivers on the grid.

The Frenchman enjoyed a number of podium finishes towards the back end of the season and Lotus really were the ‘best of the rest’ behind the all dominating and conquering Red Bull.

But financial problems also plagued the team and this ultimately saw the departure of Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari.

Investors flirted with buying into the team, which had tempted Nico Hulkenberg with a move to Lotus towards the end of the season, but eventually it didn’t come off.

Hulkenberg instead made the move to Force India, whilst Lotus snapped up Pastor Maldonado and his millions of sponsorship money from Venezuelan Oil.

Winter testing continued to show a downward spiral for the team. They missed the first winter test in Jerez completely and then struggled for mileage in the Bahrain tests.

One of the problems of course was Renault, who were known to be struggling to catch-up with Mercedes and Ferrari, but a lot of their problems were also internal.

In the end Australia was pretty much just an additional test session for the team.

Friday’s practice came and went with neither driver completing a lap during free practice one, free practice two saw Grosjean complete 12 laps whilst Maldonado remained in the garage.

On Saturday, Maldonado completed 15 laps in FP3 but Grosjean remained in the pits.

In qualifying Maldonado failed to set a time, whilst Grosjean completed a time which was over six seconds off the pace.

So both drivers started at the tail end of the grid and eventually both went on to retire from the race due to a faulty MGU-K [Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic] component, part of Renault’s power-train.

Pastor Maldonado retired from the race on lap 29, whilst Romain Grosjean retired after 43 laps.

‘After such a difficult built up to the race it was some sort of plus to get two cars to just under half distance, but shows we are still not at the level we want. We have struggled all weekend to find the right balance between reliability and performance, but we seemed to turn a corner today and Pastor and Romain were both on the pace of the top 10. Unfortunately both drivers suffered from a malfunctioning MGU-K and were forced to retire.’ Renault Sport F1 team support leader Julien Barbieux told formula1.com.

Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi added: ‘Both our cars finished with problems related to the same MGU-K component so we and Renault F1 Sport both know where we have to focus for our improvements heading to Malaysia.’

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane concluded: ‘In simple terms, we’ve finished a disappointing weekend with a disappointing race, with neither car finishing. However the 45 laps completed by Romain’s car is the longest run completed by the E22 and while we accept we’re way behind, we’re working hard to catch up.’