A Tale Of Two Lotuses: The Unfortunate Art Of The “Short Grand Prix”

If we were to add up the 2014 season to an already tumultuous 2015 calendar year, we could easily argue that Lotus has been Formula One’s least fortunate team.

It’s true, after finishing just 45 points shy of 2nd place Mercedes in 2013, Lotus went on to score just 10 points in 2014, for the entire year! If that doesn’t sound shocking enough, it’s probably because you’re not aware of the fact that they amassed 315 points in 2013 and 303 points in 2012.

This year, Maldonado and Grosjean only managed 50 points between them, with 7 races still to go. However, the problem isn’t necessarily how fast the two drivers are, or how quick the Mercedes-powered (soon to be Renault) Lotus is in a straight line. The issue is reliability…of both the E23 Hybrid as well as those that get behind the wheel.

Most recently in Italy, both drivers had to call it quits after the first corner, when Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson tapped Grosjean, sending him into Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who in turn hit the other Lotus, driven by Pastor Maldonado.

Team principal Federico Gastaldi said that both of his drivers need to work more on being conservative during the opening lap. “We need to consider being conservative maybe in the first corner. We need to be more careful. It’s something we will sit with all the guys involved in the strategy, including Nick Chester, Alan Permane and also the drivers themselves.”

Here’s a quick recap of how Lotus managed to master the art of the “Short Grand Prix”:

Australia: Maldonado crashes in T1, Grosjean loses power on the formation lap.
Malaysia: Maldonado has puncture due to first-lap contact.
Spain: Maldonado & Grosjean collide on lap 4.
Monaco: Maldonado pulls over with a hydraulic leak after 5 laps.
Britain: Maldonado & Grosjean wiped out on the first lap.
Hungary: Grosjean drops from 10th to 16th on the first lap, though recovers to finish P7.
Belgium: Maldonado has clutch system damage because of 17G impact with Eau Rouge kerbs on lap 2.
Italy: Maldonado & Grosjean have terminal damage after first-corner collision with Sauber & Force India.

So if you’re Renault and you take over the team, aside from striving to build a potent power unit, how would you manage the drivers? With plenty of races left this year, we’re looking at more than just a few opportunities for both Maldonado as well as Grosjean to prove that they can be more cerebral during the first couple of laps.

Story references: Autosport

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