Lotus must be happy with their first season after taking over from Renault (Lotus F1 team not to be confused with Team Lotus, now know as Caterham) last year. Kimi Raikkonen took the team to its first win at Abu Dhabi while Grosjean’s car on the other side of garage helped the team to score a total of 10 podiums finishes. We take an in-depth look of Lotus F1 team tell you how they fared out in 2012.
Lotus has been particularly strong in hot conditions this year. It was evident in Bahrain where both the drivers finished on the podium. Also, the team was easy on tyres and can run them longer than their rivals. However, while team was regular podium finisher in the first half of the season, it did lose out in in-season development race to the top 3 because of a comparatively lower budget.
Victories – 1Podiums – 10Points – 303Final Position – 4
Lotus was the best team when it comes to social media with presence on all major social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The team also posted live cartoons during race and regularly replied to their fans on Twitter.
The drivers – Raikkonen and Grosjean
With the change in name and ownership came a change in drivers lineup, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean joining the squad. Raikkonen, who raced in F1 until 2009, returned to the sport after spending two years in World Rally Championship. Romain Grosjean made his F1 debut in 2009 with Renault but had an unsuccessful season as he was just not ready for the pinnacle of motor sport. The Frenchman returned to lower series and in 2011, he took the GP2 title and got a seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen in 2012.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified in a lowly 17th place at the first race in Australia while his teammate Romain Grosjean placed his car in 3rd place. In the race, Raikkonen was strong and finished in 7th place. His first podium came at Bahrain, where he nearly overtook Vettel for victory. From there he didn’t look back and went on to score 5 more podiums. At Abu Dhabi, he was lucky when Lewis Hamilton retired from fuel pressure problem gifting Finn his first victory since Belgium 2009. Nevertheless, no one can doubt that he didn’t deserve the victory, being the most consistent driver of the season, completing each and every lap and scoring points in 19 of 20 races.
Kimi Raikkonen has always been famous for his interviews and funny replies and at Abu Dhabi, he went over the radio to say “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’. The quote immediately went viral on the web. In the post race ceremony, he swore: “Last time you guys were giving me s**t because I didn’t really smile enough”. That wasn’t the end and after the race, he gifted 500 members of Lotus F1 team a shirt with that particular ‘leave me alone’ quote.
In the end, Raikkonen finished the championship in 3rd place with 207 points in what was one of the most successful comebacks in the history of sport. We expect him to win more races and fight for the championship in 2013.
After having a poor season in 2009, Grosjean returned to F1 this season and placed his car in third place at the very first race in Australia. However, he retired on the very first lap following a collision with Pastor Maldonado.
As the season progressed, he continued to impress in qualifying, beating his teammate in most occasions. However, in the race, the story was different. Grosjean was responsible for multiple first lap crashes throughout the season for which he was criticized and made fun of by rival drivers as well people on the web. In Belgium for instance, the Frenchman was involved in a first lap incident with Hamilton in which the latter, along with Alonso and Perez, retired from the race. He was subsequently given a one race ban for the accident.
Nevertheless, he performed well in many races with podium finishes at three races, namely Bahrain, Canada, and Hungary.
In the end, Grosjean finished the championship in 8th place with 96 points. He has definitely shown he has talent but really needs to control his mistakes. He is currently searching for a drive in 2013 but is likely to be retained at Lotus.
Highlight of the season
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was definitely the highlight of the season for Lotus. Kimi Raikkonen put his car on 4th place on the grid and soon moved into second place by overtaking Maldonado and slow starter Webber. On lap 19, Lewis Hamilton retired from the race due to a fuel pressure problem, gifting the Finn the lead. From then, Raikkonen controlled the race despite being interrupted by two Safety Car periods to win his first race since his comeback.