April 19th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus had a strange combination of very good and very bad qualifying in China. Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3 for the first time in 2014 and qualified 10th, but Pastor Maldonado did not take part in qualifying at all after a power unit problem meant his car was in pieces when Q1 got underway.
Lotus have displayed better pace this weekend than at any other time thus far this season. Both Lotus drivers were in the top six in this morning's FP3 session, and Grosjean was in the top ten in Friday's FP2 session. So it was not entirely surprising that Grosjean was able to show good pace during qualifying, even if he did not manage to quite achieve the qualifying position he might have liked.
Grosjean said after qualifying:
It is good to be in Q3. We have made good progress this weekend. Things went better this morning than in qualifying this afternoon and so we had maybe even higher hopes. I’m not sure why we didn’t feel as much performance this afternoon than in FP3. I also suffered with the tyres and the conditions change a little from this morning too but it has been a while since we’ve been in Q3!
Looking forward to Sunday's race, Grosjean said he was aiming for a points finish, which would be his and the team's first of the season. He said, "We are hoping for a good race for tomorrow and hopefully we can stay in the top ten.”
On the other side of the Lotus garage, the promise of FP3 came to naught as Maldonado was sidelined for the entire qualifying session with technical issues. He was disappointed not to have the chance to compete for a strong grid position, but nonetheless saw the positive side of his team's progress through the weekend. Maldonado said:
“For sure we are not happy to have missed qualifying. Tomorrow will be another day and the race is very long. I remain optimistic and I’ll do my best as always but it’s not a very good situation to be dealing with, but we are working very hard to keep improving. We saw Romain qualify in the top ten today and I was sixth fastest in the morning so we are making improvements.”