F1 2015 Preview: Lotus

2014 Statistics

Constructors Championship: 8th
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Pole positions: 0
Points finishes: 3

For a team who finished fourth in the championship with 315 points, it was a surprise to see Lotus languish at the lower end of the table with just 10 points to their name in 2014. Hampered by the troublesome Renault engine, the team – who were accustomed to podium finishes and even the occasional win in 2012 and 2013 – suffered a season to forget as well as having to deal with losing the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and James Allison who moved to Ferrari.

A double ERS failure in Australia was a sign of what was to come in the season. Various mechanical problems put paid to a number of their races including power unit failures, rear wing problems and exhaust issues. New recruit Pastor Maldonado didn’t even make the start of the Monaco Grand Prix due to a fuel pump problem. Their best result over the course of the year was 8th, which Romain Grosjean achieved on two occasions. The Frenchman was vocally at odds with the cumbersome E22, expressing his frustration on more than one occasion over team radio. The team’s season came to an end in a cloud of smoke when Maldonado’s power unit failed on lap 26 of the Abu Dhabi GP while Grosjean finished outside the points.

The former ‘first lap nutcase’ has mellowed in recent years but Grosjean is no doubt hoping that Lotus will provide him a car more like the one he enjoyed in 2012 and 2013. He has shown he has the speed – he dragged the car up to fifth in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix – but he was not able to put it to full use last season. Lotus have made the switch to Mercedes engines and signs in testing have so far been positive. He has challenged for race wins before so is more than capable he just needs the car beneath him to do it.

Proven race winner Maldonado has picked up a bit of a reputation over his time in Formula One for crashing but realistically it has not been a regular occurrence in recent times, with most of his incidents and retirements due to car failures. The Venezuelan’s biggest high in Formula One came at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. Promoted to pole position following Lewis Hamilton being disqualified, he held his own and kept Fernando Alonso behind him to take his maiden GP win. He has never quite reached those heights again but if the Lotus can take a step forward this year then no doubt he will be challenging for points.

The team have also added GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer to their driver line-up as reserve driver. He made his testing debut for the team at the first test in Barcelona where they topped three of four days of running. Lotus certainly appear to have made positive steps forward but as always it won’t be until they are on track with everyone else in race trim to see where they really stand.

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