D he time tables show a clear picture. After the first two free practice sessions for the 2015 GP in Spain, Lotus is only the seventh fastest team. As in the first four races, they were behind Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and Toro Rosso. On Friday, the black racers were overtaken by Toro Rosso and McLaren.
Lotus loses engine cover at top speed
After all: the reasons for the moderate start to the weekend were quick after practice found. The reliability, the setup and the new parts were causing trouble. 'We had a few problems with the setup. The tail moved too much,' said Pastor Maldonado, who came in 18th and 14th. His team-mate agreed: 'We tried a different basic setup. However, it didn't make the car feel any better. It wasn't as consistent as usual. First I had a loose rear end, then understeer.'
On the Lotus E23, the engine cover, which shattered into its individual parts due to the air pressure, came off in a spectacular way on the home straight. 'A small carbon part has come loose at the back. As a result, more air got under the cover, which eventually tore it off,' explained Grosjean, who only managed 14 cycles. 'It was a difficult day for me. First I missed the first training session, then I lost 50 minutes in the second session.'
New rear wing does not work properly
The limited program limited the two Lotus pilots in evaluating the new parts sufficiently. For the Spanish GP, the team from Enstone has a new rear wing, other trim parts around the rear tires and modified brake ventilation. The planned new nose had to stay at home because it rattled through the crash test.
The updates used did not work. Maldonado upgraded to the old model after a run with the new rear wing. 'I will probably use this for the rest of the weekend.' Feared because of the weak performance of the new partsGrosjean to stay behind Toro Rosso and McLaren-Honda for the rest of the weekend. His team-mate is more optimistic: 'Toro Rosso has been faster than us in qualifying all year round. But we were always much faster in the races.'
Grosjean angry at Maldonado
On Friday, the track was also in poor condition, which led to slow lap times. That made work difficult for the drivers. 'The track was still a bit green and dirty. Especially this morning. But with the long runs in the afternoon it got better and better. Over the course of the weekend it should improve even further,' said Maldonado, who also commented on the Pirelli rubbers . 'The hard tire is a bit too much on the hard side.'
At the end of the day there was still a bit of a nuisance at Lotus. Because he had to make way for a replacement driver, in this case Joylon Palmer, again, Grosjean was acidified. When asked by a journalist that Pastor Maldonado said he would forego the first training session if he were asked, Grosjean replied: 'I've already mentioned that ten times. But nothing has happened yet.' Background: Because of his generous sponsorship dowry, Maldonado is seated in all official meetings. And Grosjean has to look down the drain every now and then when Lotus substitute Palmer allows a few kilometers.