March 9 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey , Formula One correspondent
Sunday, April 15, 2012
After a tumultuous weeks for the car company, Hethel-backed Lotus could at least celebrate the first points for Romain Grosjean in a captivating Chinese Grand Prix.
Indeed, things could have been even better for the Frenchman’s team-mate Kimi Räikkönen – who was running second with just a handful of laps left, only for his tyres to give up and leave him plummeting down the order up to the chequered flag.
In the end the Finn had to settle for a pointless 14th, while last year’s GP2 champion Grosjean secured sixth with the first finish of his F1 return.
“It was a very good race, I really enjoyed it,” said Grosjean. “The car felt great and the team did an amazing job to give us such a big improvement from Friday (practice), so I’m especially happy for the guys to be able to finish the race and get some good points on the board.
“To be up there fighting with McLaren and Red Bull is a great feeling and I’m happy to have got my season started properly. We’ve had high hopes since P3 on the grid in Melbourne, and now after a few setbacks it’s time to aim higher.
“There’s always room to improve and hopefully from here we can aim for the top five and eventually podiums. We’ll take things step by step but I’m feeling confident for the rest of the season ahead.”
Räikkönen’s mood was not quite as rosy following the action in Shanghai.
“We tried to run two stops as it looked to be the fastest strategy and up until the last 10 laps it was looking good, but we ran out of tyre performance at the end,” said the 2007 world champion.
“I was stuck behind Felipe (Massa) for quite a while…even if I’d got past I don’t think it would have made the greatest amount of difference to the final result. We had good pace in the race, we tried a different strategy and it didn’t pay off today; it’s as simple as that.”
Team principal Eric Boullier added: “It is getting more frustrating for us as we are clearly very close to achieving a very good result – 12 laps before the end we had one car in P2 and one car in P5 with no more pit stops to go.
“Unfortunately, we were a little bit too aggressive with our strategy. As soon as we understood some cars were doing three stops it was clear there was potential for us to finish on the podium, but we were not expecting the tyre wear to be as high as it was.”
Lotus’ failed official protest against Mercedes’ super F-duct at the start of the weekend may yet see Enstone turn their attention to replicating the system – although with just seven days until the next race in Bahrain, such updates will most likely have to wait until the F1 circuit proceeds to Europe.