Romain Grosjean reckons Lotus is now going to have to treat the Australian Grand Prix like a test session after a difficult opening day of Formula 1 action.
The Frenchman missed the first practice session while work to fix a gearbox leak was completed, with the team having elected not to break the overnight curfew. Later on, he suffered software and turbo issues before eventually crashing out with rear suspension failure near the end of FP2.
With teammate Pastor Maldonado having his fair share of frustrations, too, Grosjean accepts that the most important thing now is to learn as much as possible about the car this weekend.
His view was in contrast to his feelings after the Bahrain test, when he said he hoped the team would not need to treat the Australian GP like a test session.
“I think, unfortunately, we will have to learn here,” he said. “I did hope that it wouldn’t be the case and that we would have straightaway a new baseline, but with the new rules and the new tires, everything new, it just takes a bit more time than it used to.
“We will try setups, we will try things we can do on our own, and we will still take the updates from Renault which have been working very well to be honest and then try to discover new things.”
He added: “We need to understand everything and get on top of the new tires, the new aero rules and I think still engine-wise there is progress. But you can break a suspension because you didn’t do much mileage in testing before coming here.
“If we had known [about that] we would just be stronger, but that is part of the thing – that we are (behind).”
PLAN TO RUN IN FINAL PRACTICE
Although there is a danger on Saturday that he could be stuck in the garage for qualifying if there are further troubles in final practice that take time to fix, Grosjean said his team was better off taking the risk of running in FP3 than playing it safe and preserving the car for qualifying.
“I want to do the third practice session,” he said. “We need some mileage and I need to speak with the team.
“I don’t think there is any big downside to trying, even though if we have a problem we miss qualifying.
“At the moment we were 18th and 22nd. I would rather have a good car for the race and be 22nd [on the grid], than being somewhere better and not understanding things.”
Maldonado, who sat out FP2 due to a wiring loom replacement, said that Lotus was not the only team struggling.
“For everyone it will be a weekend test, because no team is fully ready,” he said. “We saw this morning a Mercedes stop on the out lap, so no one is full ready. This is the reality of Formula 1 at the moment.
“For sure we have at the moment more problems than other teams, but anything can happen and we need to work harder as a team to be ready for whatever will happen.”