Lotus's Pastor Maldonado becomes second driver to pick up ten-place engine grid drop
Maldonado follows Toro Rosso's Kvyat in unlocking sixth engine
By Sky Sports Online
Last Updated: 17/10/14 5:28pm
Pastor Maldonado, whose maiden season at Lotus has been beset by problems, suffered another setback at Suzuka on Friday when he became the second driver to pick up a ten-place grid penalty for the use of a sixth turbo engine in 2014.
The Venezuelan was one of seven drivers who went into this weekend’s Japanese GP having reached their limit of five penalty-free internal combustion engines for the season, with mandatory ten-place grid drops imposed when a sixth is pressed into service. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat became the first to fall foul of the rule at the Italian GP last month.
Fellow Renault customer Lotus were forced to install a fresh power plant in Maldonado's E22 for the start of Friday morning’s practice running and stewards soon confirmed that the driver would drop ten places from where he qualifies on the Suzuka grid.
However, given he has not qualified higher than 13th all season amid a turbulent year for Lotus, it’s likely that the full ten places won’t be able to be applied to Maldonado's qualifying result in one go in the 22-car field, meaning the remainder will be carried over to next week's Russian GP.
Lotus, who last scored points at the Monaco GP in May, finished 13th and 16th in Practice Two but Maldonado thinks he can still enjoy a decent race on Sunday despite the likelihood of a fourth back-row start this season.
“Suzuka is a great circuit and I think we have quite good potential here. There’s some more pace to come and our car has looked quite reasonable,” he said.
“I will have a bigger challenge in the race as there will be a ten-place grid penalty as we’re now on to our sixth engine, but if we can race reliably then a good result is still possible.”
Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen Adrian Sutil, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were the other drivers who had unlocked five engines for 2014 by the end of the last race in Singapore.
After new units were installed in Japan, Mercedes title-duelling drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are now also both on their fifth engines of the year. Teams can, however, reuse any unit from their allocation of five before having to take a sixth engine.