Mid-Season Review: Grosjean vs. Maldonado

Lotus F1 Team

Ahead of F1's return to action at Spa we're taking a look at how the drivers are faring against their team-mates. Finally, it's the struggling Lotus squad.

Lotus have had a season of change in 2014. Losing key personnel to rival teams - such as Eric Boullier, James Allison and Dirk de Beer to McLaren and Ferrari respectively - coupled with missing the first test has put them on the back foot. The situation was dealt another blow when the Renault power unit turned out to be unreliable and under-developed.

As the races have unfolded it's clear that rumours of funding issues have also affected the design and development of the E22. Instead of building on the successes of the past 18 months, they have instead become a history the team has to aspire to. The addition of Pastor Maldonado may have shored them financially, but it's only been for the saving grace of Romain Grosjean that the team actually has points on the board, separating them from the likes of Sauber and Caterham. 

Romain Grosjean - Highest grid: 5th. Highest finish: 8th.

This could have been a great year for Romain. The promise shown at the end of 2013 had many thinking this was the season where the Frenchman would take his maiden victory. Alas, Lotus haven't provided him with a car capable of delivering on that potential.

Despite this, it's been a more mature showing from Grosjean. Yes, there have been signs of frustration, but that's normal consdering the performance Lotus have shown over the past two seasons. When the car has worked to some degree, like in Spain, he delivered with a top-5 grid spot and a handful of points, which is pretty much the maximum he and the team can hope for in races.

You have to feel that eventually the reasons for Grosjean's performances will shift from 'for the team' to 'for his future in the sport'.

Pastor Maldonado - Highest grid: 14th. Highest finish: 12th.

What can be said about Maldonado that hasn't been said by everyone else? The Venezuelan is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle, at the core of which is a very, very fast racing driver. But mistakes are occurring that are, quite frankly, a bit embarrassing.

It reads like a comedy list of errors: hitting the wall on pit entry in China practice; crashing in Q1 in Spain when the car was competitive, and then colliding with Marcus Ericsson in the race; an unnecessary coming together with Jules Bianchi in Hungary; two hefty accidents with Esteban Gutierrez in Bahrain and Britain, the former pitching the Sauber into a barrel-roll.

If it were any other driver the team would have knives at the ready, but it's Pastor Maldonado. The sponsorship package he comes with far out-weighs any driver error, which only adds more layers to the conundrum he presents. 

Verdict: If you remove Maldonado's errors from the equation, he's still trounced by Grosjean. Not only results-wise, but mentality-wise too.