The Lotus F1 Team embarked on an aggressive strategy in Shanghai that saw both drivers pit twice.
The gamble worked for Romain Grosjean, who improved on his tenth place grid slot to come home sixth, while Kimi Raikkonen fell back.
The Finn started an excellent fourth place and ran as high as second during laps 41 to 47. Having pitted for the second set of medium tyres four laps before Romain, he suffered huge degradation and was swamped by his rivals during the final laps. Grosjean’s sixth place yields eight points – the first of his F1 career.
“Up until the last ten laps it was looking quite good, but we ran out of tyre performance at the end. We had good pace in the race, we tried a different strategy and it didn’t pay off. It’s as simple as that.”
“It was a very good race, I really enjoyed it. To be up there fighting with McLaren and Red Bull is a great feeling and I’m happy to have got my season started properly. We’ve had high hopes since P3 on the grid in Melbourne, and now after a few setbacks it’s time to aim higher.”
Lotus ambassador Jean Alesi reflects on the Chinese Grand Prix
Kimi Raikkonen slid from second to 14th in the closing laps – where did it all go wrong?
Well, first of all what a fantastic race. China was really thrilling right to the end, and it was thanks to the different tyre strategies the teams adopted. Kimi’s strategy was quite optimistic, staying out on his third set of tyres. I was so shocked when he lost all those positions in just a couple of laps. He did a great job of keeping those cars behind him as long as he did, but suddenly there was a big drop-off of grip and when Sebastian Vettel got past, Kimi was forced to go off line and picked up the discarded rubber marbles. He had no chance to clean his tyres and everyone else passed him. Fernando Alonso suffered more or less the same thing, but there weren’t so many cars behind him and he only lost a couple of places.
The two-stop strategy seemed to work better for Romain Grosjean, who rose from tenth to sixth...
Yes, he had good race pace. After his accidents in Australia and Malaysia he had to be more careful, he knew he needed to get to the end. I was quite happy with what he did, at a track he’s never driven on before.
The car is capable of more though. It must be frustrating for them not to be on the podium yet...
It’s really tough when your results don’t match your performance. Ferrari has a car that is uncompetitive, but after two rounds Fernando was leading the world championship. At Lotus, things are the other way around. They have a very competitive car but they haven’t pulled it all together. In this situation, it is important to stay cool and acknowledge they have the car, they trust the drivers, and the results will come. Unlike last year, when the Red Bull RB7 dominated, this season there isn’t a clear frontrunner and that means it’s all about detail. Because it’s so close out there, the winning team will be the one that makes no mistakes. One little detail missing, and the results won’t come. So Lotus need to stay calm, but keep an eye on every detail.