Lotus fume in garage after dismal opening day

Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:31am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Lotus had braced for a tough start to the Formula One season after troubled winter testing but were left mortified after Friday's opening day at the Australian Grand Prix.

Neither French driver Romain Grosjean nor his Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado troubled the timesheets in the first practice session due to reliability problems on a sunny day at Albert Park.

Grosjean finally posted a time after emerging deep into the second session but his best from just 12 laps of the street circuit was more than four seconds adrift of Mercedes pace-setter Lewis Hamilton.

It was also 18th out of the 19 cars that posted lap times, with only Briton Max Chilton coming in lower for strugglers Marussia.

"We experienced quite a few issues today," Lotus technical director Nick Chester said.

"We were delayed getting Romain's car out in the first session due to a gearbox fluid leak whilst Pastor had an electrical problem."

Only lowly Caterham fared worse than Lotus, with both Swede Marcus Ericsson and Japanese team mate Kamui Kobayashi unable to register a lap time in either session.

Along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham are powered by Renault engines which performed abjectly during winter testing.   Continued...

Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France looks up during the first practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Brandon Malone