Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 69

SEASON REVIEW Romain Grosjean POINTS 8 POSITION IN THE DRIVERS‘ CHAMPIONSHIP 14 WINS 0 PODIUMS 0 POLES 0 RETIREMENTS 6 As Toleman, the Enstone-based outfit has seen even worse years than the 2014 season. The performance, however, is particularly lacklustre when compared to the team’s previous two seasons. Some fans will be quick to point to the questionable decision to replace Kimi Raikkonen with Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado’s propensity to crash, however, was the least of Lotus’s concerns in 2014. The team started the year on the back foot after a failed investment from the sham Quantum investment fund. The lack of resources meant that the Enstone team lost key staff during the winter break. The internal issues prevented Lotus from completing their 2014 car in time to participate in the first pre-season test at Jerez. Testing was especially important before the start of the turbo era as all sorts of technical glitches appeared on the Renault power units and the Renault-powered teams were forced to learn how to fix issues fast. Lotus’s lack of running at Jerez meant that the team finished the pre-season on 1288 km, 3684 behind the (unsurprising) leaders Mercedes. Lotus finished the 2013 season fourth, but the gap from the midfield at the start of the season was so big that it is a minor mira- 070 / December 2014 Pastor Maldonado POINTS 2 POSITION IN THE DRIVERS‘ CHAMPIONSHIP 16 WINS 0 PODIUMS 0 POLES 0 RETIREMENTS 5 cle that Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado ended up scoring any points in 2014. It was, of course, mostly picking up the leftovers with Grosjean finishing eighth twice (the P8 at Monaco was actually P9 but Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was given a post-race penalty) and Maldonado taking P9 once. Kimi Raikkonen’s 2014 season was hardly successful, but he is certainly more than happy to have left Lotus, considering the team’s ongoing struggles. The fall from grace on track has led to losses behind the scenes too. Unilever ended its sponsorship deal with the Enstone-based outfit, moving to the “hotter” Grove-based Williams. Eric Boullier opted to bow out from Lotus to join McLaren as a Racing Director (a position lower than his Team Principal role at Lotus). There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Lotus signed a power unit deal with Mercedes, ending a very long engine partnership with Renault. Given Renault’s dismal reliability and lack of power compared to Mercedes, getting a new power unit deal was the only option for Lotus, if the team is to stay afloat. If the engine development freeze debacle continues into next season, it will not be too surprising to see Lotus back among the regular point-scorers. 69