Mid-Season Report: Lotus

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean
Championship Standings: 4th
Highest Finish: 1st

Lotus were one of four teams not making a driver change between 2012 and 2013. The consistency would give them a slight advantage on the likes of McLaren and Mercedes who each had new drivers who would need time to get used to their respective cars. Kimi qualified seventh ahead of Romain in eighth but through a strong strategy and an impressive pace from the ‘Iceman’, Kimi took the first win of the season. On the other hand, Grosjean dropped from eighth to tenth to take the last points finish on offer.

Due to a three-place penalty for impeding Nico Rosberg in Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Raikkonen started seventh for the second time in a row, but unlike in Australia, there was no Sunday charge in Malaysia as he finished the race seventh and behind Romain who finished sixth. Raikkonen overcame slight contact with Perez in China to finish right behind race-winner Alonso while Grosjean brought the car home in ninth. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Kimi in second and Romain in third to replicate the 2012 podium at the same circuit. It was Grosjean’s first podium finish since the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Kimi finished second for the third consecutive race in Catalunya, again finishing behind Alonso. Grosjean dropped out of the race in the opening stages with a suspension failure on his E21. He also failed to finish the Monaco Grand Prix, making some dodgy overtaking manoeuvres into the Nouvelle chicane and finally rear-ending Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo at high-speed. The collision earned him a ten-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix, alongside a renewed wave of criticism towards the Frenchman. Kimi was also in the wars. Refusing to give the reckless Perez room into the same Nouvelle chicane, Sergio out-braked himself and hit the Lotus. Apart from a verbal blasting from Kimi, Perez escaped penalty-free.

Raikkonen’s ninth place at the Canadian Grand Prix saw him equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 25 consecutive points finishes. He has finished in the points in every race since the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix and also not suffered a single retirement since his return to the in March 2012.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber had another of his infamous slow starts at the British Grand Prix and dropped back into the mid-field scrap through turn 1. Going three abreast into the corner, Button pushed Grosjean into Webber and caused the Aussie some minor front wing damage. Romain eventually dropped from the race, one lap from the end, with a handling problem. Raikkonen tried an alternative strategy to try to finish on the podium but soon dropped to fifth by the end of the race.

The Lotus’, especially Romain Grosjean, were in a world of their own and had they not suffered a poorer than expected Qualifying session, would’ve taken the win. Nonetheless, Grosjean put a fantastic fight to race-leader and eventual winner Sebastian Vettel before Kimi swooped in to take second off his team-mate in a team-orchestrated move. Grosjean finished third.

Grosjean’s new and improved pace carried over to Hungary where he narrowly missed out on pole position and started third. In  the race however, he dropped back and in his attempts to move up the grid moved across McLaren’s Jenson Button into the chicane and earned himself a verbal lashing from the Briton. He also won himself a post-race drive-through penalty. As if one wasn’t bad enough, he earned a second one for overtaking Ferrari’s Felipe Massa off track limits. However, this ruling was blasted by fans and drivers alike as the line Grosjean took was the line every driver takes on a normal lap. Even Massa defended Grosjean, claiming the ruling was ridiculous. Raikkonen finished the race in second while Romain dropped to sixth.

The team shows obvious talent and with a new and improved Grosjean to keep Raikkonen honest, they could soon be battling for third, or even second, in the Championship.

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