Lotus F1 Team faced a tough Saturday in Sochi with Romain Grosjean qualifying sixteenth and Pastor Maldonado qualifying in twentieth. Pastor suffered from an Energy Store issue in the morning then a power failure and related gearbox problem in the afternoon.Romain Grosjean, E22-03. Q: P16, 1:41.397. FP3: P16, 1:41.915“Today it was a real struggle to find grip which made the car a big handful to drive. Qualifying was really tough because of this. It was a shame as the track is nice to drive and you just need that extra bit of adhesion to be able to push harder. The layout isn’t as much of a challenge as we thought in some places – T3 for example is easily flat out. The track surface is very smooth so we do have to work to get the tyres up to temperature and this only happens after quite a few laps.”
Pastor Maldonado, E22-02. Q: P20, 1:43.205. FP3: No time set“We had a lot of problems today so very little time on the track. I missed the morning session because of a concern with the Energy Store, which meant we missed the opportunity to see how the track had changed and to make improvements to the car. Out on track the car actually felt okay when we weren’t having issues, but clearly the pace was not there. We weren’t able to push any harder because there were further issues with the power delivery. Tomorrow we’ll start from the back of the grid so we’ve got it all to do.”Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:“It’s likely to be a tough race for us.”How was qualifying for the team? There were problems for Pastor which prevented him from setting a representative lap and Romain was struggling for grip so qualifying was pretty far from where we want to be. Pastor lost track time in the morning so was already on the back foot, then he faced further problems at the start of qualifying which led to an issue for his gearbox. Romain couldn’t find grip so struggled to be able to push for a fast time.What are the strategy considerations for the race? The tyre allocation is exceptionally durable here so it’s highly likely to be a one stop race, even with the kind of high temperatures we’ve been enjoying so far this weekend. The track surface is very smooth and we can expect to see the grip levels improve further over the course of the race. Pastor will have it all to do starting from the back of the grid and Romain will have his work cut out too.