April 4th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado had a busy and productive day of practice on Friday in Bahrain. After technical issues heavily restricted their Friday running in Australia and Malaysia, today's more normal practice sessions were much needed by the Lotus team.
Until today, Pastor Maldonado had not yet set a lap time during Friday practice in 2014, such have been the struggles of the Lotus team this season. Romain Grosjean had fared little better, not managing to set a lap time in an FP1 session before today, and having limited running in FP2 in Australia and Malaysia.
But it all finally started to come right for Lotus at the Bahrain International Circuit. Maldonado completed 31 laps in FP1 and 25 in FP2, while Grosjean covered 24 laps in FP1 and 23 in FP2. A technical issue cost Grosjean some track time in FP2, but he was able to complete a reasonable number of laps nonethelesss.
Neither driver was as quick as they would have hoped to be after the form Lotus showed in 2013. But that is largely a result of the lack of track time so far this season. What is important at this stage is to have as much time on the track as possible in order to gather information that can be used to improve the team's understanding of the car. The speed will come as the team gets to grips with their 2014 machine.
Maldonado was the quicker of the two drivers in both sessions, placing 16th in FP1 and 17th in FP2, while Grosjean was 19th fastest in FP1 and 18th quickest in FP2.
With 103 laps completed between them, the team now has a lot of data to sift through before tomorrow's FP3 session. They will no doubt make some setup changes that should unlock some more speed from the car. If that is the case, then Lotus can be expected to move up the order a bit in FP3 and compete for places in Q2 when qualifying gets underway tomorrow evening.
Here's what the drivers had to say after Friday practice in Bahrain:
Romain Grosjean: “We have learnt a lot about the car today which can only help us to make progress. I had a bit of an issue which needed investigating in the second session, so it was frustrating to miss some time as I’m sure we would have made more improvements. It was interesting driving one session on a hot and bright afternoon then the next in darkness. We have lots of work to do for tomorrow.”
Pastor Maldonado: “It was good to have a reliable car and we completed a lot of work today. We had a lot of parts to test and we ran through many different evaluations. I made a little mistake in the evening session and we took quite a bit of air after jumping the kerb. Fortunately, not too much damage was done and we could continue the session. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to see how well we can perform.”