While the Formula 1 field takes a well-earned moment to rest and recharges its batteries ahead of the second half of the season, the RichardsF1.com team has taken the opportunity to review each driver and team and their performances over the first eleven rounds of the season.
Today we take a look at what has been a very frustrating half-year for the Lotus F1 Team, which has struggled with its radical car and the contrasting performances between its drivers.
The writing was perhaps on the wall before the pre-season even started, with the team ending a largely promising campaign minus the services of Kimi Räikkönen and a host of talented staff amid ongoing concerns over the team’s finances. There were rumours of a buyout by some mysterious US-based investors, but that never eventuated.
Then came the departure of team principal Eric Boullier, who jumped ship to McLaren, and the rumours worsened when the team elected to skip the first pre-season test at Jerez for alleged further development of its E22 challenger. Normally this wouldn’t present too much panic, but given the wholesale changes in the Formula 1 technical regulations, this was tantamount to disaster.
It made it for the final two test outings in Bahrain, needing to take maximum advantage of its eight days of available track running to tease out any troubles and fine-tune its radical twin-nose design.
Almost immediately it was apparent that the E22 was going to struggle – Renault’s pre-season power unit woes weren’t helping matters – with both Romaon Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado well off the pace.
It came into Australia not expecting to run long enough to make the first round of pit stops – by its own admission – and, predictably, neither driver finished. It’s been a bruising run ever since, with a pair of eighth-placed finishes by Grosjean being its only reward, while Maldonado has yet again attracted criticism for the team with his erratic driving.
That the team opted to re-sign him to early is perhaps a sign of how dire the team’s financial position remains. Unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in form, the nightmare looks set to continue.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 4/10
|Rank||Constructor||Races||DNS||Poles||Wins||Podiums||FL||Laps Led||Laps Raced||DNF||Pts.|
|8th||Lotus F1 Team||11||1||0||0||0||0||0||1028/1318||9||8|
One of the few stars in Lotus’ troubled 2014 season has been Romain Grosjean, who has knuckled down to the task and tried to make the best of his circumstances. Sometimes openly critical of the car, he’s still managed to extract the maximum from the ill-handling and unreliable E22 and scored all of the team’s points with a pair of eighth-placed finishes in Spain and Monaco.
His reputation for erratic driving – which almost cost him his career in 2012 – is now a distant memory, with the only blot on his copybook being a cold-tyre crash in the damp at Hungary.
He’s doing all he needs to do: bringing the car home and outperforming his teammate: he’s thumped Maldonado 10-1 in head-to-head qualifying and only been beaten over the finish once when they’ve both seen the chequered flag.
His connections with his manager Eric Boullier might open up an opportunity to reunite with his compatriot at McLaren, but perhaps he might be well-placed to remain with Lotus if the rumours of a switch to Mercedes power in 2015 come true?
RichardsF1.com Rating: 7/10
While Grosjean has seemingly ditched his reputation for wild driving, Maldonado has returned to his old ways in dramatic fashion in 2014. While he might be bringing in sponsorship dollars to keep the team afloat, he’s eaten into that considerably with the sheer number of incidents and accidents he’s had.
He sent Esteban Gutiérrez’s Sauber into a barrel-roll at Bahrain. Next time out in China, he crashed into the wall at pit entry. Onwards to Spain, he threw away his first chance of a good qualifying performance with another crash and then compounded his weekend by hitting Marcue Ericsson’s Caterham.
He had another tangle with Gutiérrez at Silverstone – although, for once, this wasn’t his fault – and then had another moment of madness when he hit Jules Bianchi’s Marussia at the Hungaroring.
Yes it’s a bad car and the E22’s limit is on a knife-edge, but when compared to Grosjean’s very clean record, it’s not justified. On current evidence, he doesn’t have the talent or the temperament to deserve a seat in Formula 1, but he and his Venezuelan sponsorship millions will be married to Lotus for another year.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 2/10
Images via XPB Images
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