And so, our trawl through F1’s silly season arrives at Lotus, where the only real question is: RomaIN, or GrosGONE?
Everybody’s favourite bad guy Pastor Maldonado was confirmed for 2015 back in July, with the Venezuelan’s government funding doing much to sway Lotus owner Gerard Lopez, and ease the team’s underlying financial plight.
However, you don’t need an analytical degree to realise that it’s the other side of the garage that Lotus must be desperate to keep for the performance aspect to things. In Romain Grosjean, they have one of the fastest drivers on the grid. Let us not forget for one minute just how impressive the Frenchman was towards the end of 2013, with four podium finishes from the last six races confirming his shining credentials, previously blighted by a wrecking streak and affection for the barriers.
Lotus and Romain certainly haven’t taken off from where they left off last season however, with a fundamentally flawed chassis being further held back by the just as below-par Renault power unit – a combination that has seen Grosjean score just 8 points from 12 races, a best finish of eighth and a package that has allowed him to get into Q3 just twice. Sacré bleu.
It would be rude to not to look towards the mass exodus of personnel during the 2013/14 off-season as a factor in the team’s poor performances, with Team Principal Eric Boullier, chief designer James Allison, and aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer all leaving, leaving Grosjean and co high and dry.
Visibly dejected in black and gold, could Grosjean go elsewhere? Strangely his name has been absent from most rumour mills thus far this season, despite being out of contract. The simple answer would appear to be that there simply isn’t any room at the inn up and down the paddock; Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India appear to be sorted for 2015 at least, and the ongoing McLaren saga is one that Grosjean has failed to play a big role in, as yet at least.
Beside the mentioned teams, the fact of the matter is that a move elsewhere, to the likes of Sauber or Caterham for instance, would be at best a sideways shuffle. A switch to Merc-power for 2015 certainly bodes well, with the notion of “it can’t get any worse” also ringing true.
For use of the coined term, Team Enstone have shown time and time again their “bouncebackability” from adversity; lest we forget that Toleman Motorsport became the championship winning Schumacher-led Benetton, before Renault took the mantle from the same struggling outfit just three years before a certain Fernando Alonso took his maiden title in 2005.
You want our advice, Romain? Hold tight, because as history has proved, Lotus will be back sooner rather than later.