The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix proved a tough call for Lotus today when bad luck thwarted the team from the outset. Former F1® World Champion Kimi Räikkönen was excluded from qualifying as a result of an FIA penalty due to the failure of a floor deflection test. This meant that despite protestations from the team, Kimi was relegated to the back of the grid, where the Finn began from P22. A few seconds from lights out, as the cars approached the first corner, an unfortunate wheel-to-wheel collision with Guido Van de Garde, caused irrevocable damage forcing Kimi to retire altogether from the race.
Romain on the other hand, was well within the top ten starting spots and began from P6. A great get-away from the Frenchman following lights out saw him gain two places and step up into P4. Pit stop strategy did not quite work in his favour however and he was forced to stop twice during the race. Despite a heart-felt assault Romain could not quite derail his P3 opponent despite battling to close the narrowest of gaps between the two, but still put in a commendable performance to take the flag a mere second behind in P4.
The Lotus F1® Team retains its 4th place in the Constructors Championship with 297 points. Kimi resides in 3rd place in the driver’s championship standings’ whilst teammate Romain Grosjean sits in 7th place on 114 points.
Kimi Räikkönen. DNF E21-05 “There was some contact in front of me through the first corner so I stuck to the inside, but unfortunately one of the Caterhams touched my front wheel and it broke the track rod. It wasn’t a heavy impact, but the angle made it worse. It’s never easy starting so far back on the grid, but after the penalty it was a better choice to help our chances in the race rather than starting from the pit lane. After a difficult start to the weekend we did well yesterday so it was a shame we couldn’t start where we qualified, but these things happen sometimes; it’s just back luck.”
Romain Grosjean P4, E21-04 “That was a pretty long race. I got a good start and made up two places in the first few corners, but after that I lost a lot of time behind the Force India. I could overtake him with the DRS, but he had much better top speed and could just drive straight back past at the next straight. That middle stint cost us the chance of a podium in the end, and on pace we could maybe even have pushed Mark [Webber] for second place, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s a shame we couldn’t make it four podiums in a row, but to come away with fourth place after a difficult couple of days is a decent result.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal “It’s been a difficult weekend for the team, but we can be pleased with the fact our car has once again shown strong pace at another different circuit. After the misfortune of his qualifying penalty it was always going to be a tough race for Kimi. Starting at the back with a faster car always puts you in a tricky position, and in the end it was bad luck once again that saw his race end on the first lap; for the first time since 2006 I believe. Romain drove a very mature race to narrowly miss out on his fourth consecutive podium, which on another day and without his issues in qualifying would certainly have been within reach. We have some work to do if we are to achieve our target of third place in the Constructors’ Championship, so our focus must now be on returning to the podium in Austin.”
The next round of the competition see’s the team head to the USA for the United States Grand Prix which takes place in Austin, Texas on the 15th November 2013.