MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Last year Lotus won the Australian Grand Prix. This year the team is wondering if its cars will even be on the starting grid.
The team arrived at this weekend's Formula One season opener after what driver Romain Grosjean frankly describes as a "disastrous winter" in which the cars suffered a litany of technical problems with the new Renault V6 hybrid turbo engine.
The team was so preoccupied with solving the software-controlled engine problems that it barely got a chance to work on the new aerodynamics, tire management or other vital parts.
That means this Friday's testing sessions will not be the standard fine tuning so much as learning from scratch how the car should work.
"It's not frustrating, it's just a little bit of a strange situation, because we don't really know what the car is," Grosjean said.
"It adds a little bit of pressure because we have to learn all this on the race weekend."
Asked what the goals are for his car at the Albert Park circuit, Grosjean grinned and replied: "It can be on the grid on Sunday."
Can, not will.
He laughed off reports of a temper tantrum at the Bahrain test sessions, saying the photos that showed him in an apparent rage were actually staged, and that the team cannot afford any fractures or discord during the difficult early races.
Continue reading this story on the...