Lotus F1 Team kicked off the 2012 Formula 1 season with a day of mixed emotions in Melbourne, as Kimi mounted a superb comeback charge and Romain’s fairytale weekend came to a cruel and premature end
Despite a few clouds lingering over the Albert Park circuit, the downpours that affected Friday’s running were nowhere to be seen as the paddock was blessed with ideal weather for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
After a difficult day on Saturday, in which a combination of driving and communication errors confined him to a lowly P18 on the grid, Kimi came slicing through the field to finish well inside the points in 7th. The Finn got a good start but was immediately hindered by an accident at the first turn, which forced him to slow almost to a stop and take to the grass in avoidance.
It seemed like this was not to be Kimi’s weekend, as he now faced an uphill battle to recover the places he had gained off the start line once more. In typical fashion, the 2007 World Champion kept his cool and made rapid progress through the field, breaking into the top 10 (pit stop adjusted) by lap 19, and climbing from P10 to P7 on the final lap of the race.
Having started on the yellow marked soft compound tyres Kimi made two pit stops, opting for a soft-soft-medium strategy. The final stop was made during a safety car period, which proved to be another hindrance to his progress – a frustration that just about summed up the Finn’s weekend. Nonetheless, Kimi can be proud of what was a composed, consistent, and highly encouraging return to the sport.
Romain’s weekend on the other hand unfortunately took the opposite turn to that of his team-mate. Having mastered his E20 to an impressive 3rd place grid slot on Saturday on his first visit to the Albert Park circuit, the Frenchman’s race came to an abrupt end just 3 laps into proceedings, after contact with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams at turn 13 forced him to retire with broken steering.
Romain was understandably disappointed to have his dream weekend ended in such an unjust manner, but remained upbeat after a highly promising start to his first full season in Formula 1. The Frenchman was quick to praise the efforts of the team and look ahead to the next race in Malaysia.
Round 2 of the World Championship takes us to Kuala Lumpur next weekend, March 23-25 where the team will be looking to build on the potential shown here in Australia this weekend.