It’s not easy being a Lotus fan in Formula 1 these days. After missing the first practice session in pre-season the team promptly went to Australia where they qualified last on the grid and failed to finish the race. Tough times indeed.
Formula 1’s official website provided a nice Q&A with new deputy team principle Federico Gastaldi to discuss the situation and what comes next:
Q: It’s been an interesting first week for you in your new role?
Federico Gastaldi: I think it would be right to say that the start of the season has been a tough wake up call for everyone. I knew that it was not going to be easy to start with, and I’ve been in Formula 1 long enough to understand what was coming. It was frustrating more than anything to see the team working so hard; everyone pulling all-nighters but without great results to show for it on track. Following the race on Sunday it felt like we’d completed our first real test as the two weeks in Bahrain were a very frustrating experience for everyone. The Melbourne race was the first time we managed to run some consistent laps with both cars, because the free practice sessions were so difficult. So, on that side it was very tough considering the amount of hard work that everyone put in to make things happen.
Q: What does your experience bring to the team?
FG: It’s true I’ve been in Formula One for many years, and in various different roles. I’ve been with ‘Team Enstone’ since the Benetton days and there are many people from those times who are still with the team which shows it has a solid bedrock. I feel very much part of the team and my goal is to deliver what I feel it deserves in terms of results on the track. That’s my main objective here. I will still be involved with business development and searching for new partners and investors. My other main goal is to try to put together all the elements with regards to all the talented people in the team, and to ensure we can deliver. It’s obviously not only up to us – Renault Sport F1 play a big part within this framework so it’s all about working together to achieve the best results possible. I know this team is the best in the paddock, there is absolutely no doubt about that in my mind. We have some of the most committed and experienced personnel around and they all have a winning mentality.
Q: What’s your perception of Romain Grosjean so far this year and how he’s dealt with the difficult situation?
FG: Romain has matured greatly in the past few years. His approach to the team is very positive; he understands that we’re all making a big effort, just as he is making a big effort in the cockpit. Like all of us he’s frustrated, obviously. However he’s very hands-on and wants to understand what is needed from his side in order to move forward in the right direction. Australia was tough for him, with tricky free practice sessions, and a disastrous qualifying. The race was what it was, in essence a test, but ultimately he is very positive – he knows this is a good team who deliver great cars and win races.
Q: How is Pastor Maldonado settling in?
FG: For Pastor it’s all new, but his approach has been extremely positive. His work ethic is very serious and he’s a hardworking professional. Obviously, like Romain, he felt frustrated. I think it’s natural! Romain has been here longer, and Pastor paid attention to him and the way in which everything worked over the weekend. Pastor has been very constructive and thumbs up to him for delivering the maximum in what is a temporarily difficult situation.
Q: Talk us through the plan for Malaysia – what’s the realistic aim?
FG: To keep learning. I would be dancing faster than the music if I said something different! We need to keep learning and if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the championship comes back to Europe in May.
Q: What would you say to all the doubters?
FG: I’d say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22. If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning world championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again. We’re a smaller team – we’re not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren, but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team’s renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!