Lotus progress halted as gearbox gremlins strike in Shanghai

Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday 20 April 2014.

Romain Grosjean’s hopes of scoring Lotus’s first points of the 2014 Formula One season were dashed on Sunday when the Frenchman was forced out of the Chinese Grand Prix by a gearbox problem.

Grosjean had qualified 10th in treacherous conditions on Saturday and was gunning for a ninth-place finish when his race engineer came on the radio asking him not to shift into fourth gear.

The problem then worsened until the car lost all gears.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a problem like this so we’ll have to understand what happened,” said the French driver, whose team were regularly challenging for the podium last year and finished fourth overall in 2013.

Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday 19 April 2014.

“It had been quite nice in the race as we’d been fighting for ninth position so we were in the points, which is a good improvement from before.”

Grosjean’s team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who had start from the back of the grid after being unable to compete in Qualifying, finished 14th.

“Today wasn’t my best race ever but we finished. My pace wasn’t fantastic but at least we moved forwards and I pushed as hard as I could,” said the Venezuelan.

“It will be nice to have a race weekend without any problems, and that’s what we are all working for when we head to Europe.”

Lotus have had a trying start to their season with chronic unreliability holding back the Enstone-based team. (Reuters)

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