Pastor Maldonado happy with E22 progress as Lotus aim to be fastest Renault team

Enstone outfit ran Renault engine at full power on Day Four at Bahrain

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 25/02/14 10:41am

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Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado with the E22

Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado with the E22

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Pastor Maldonado is confident Lotus are progressing to a position of competitiveness with the E22 despite the car's belated appearance for pre-season testing.

Lotus were unique amongst the 11 teams on the grid this season not to attend the Jerez test last month, with the cash-strapped outfit opting to focus on developing their new charger at their Enstone base instead.

Despite finishing fourth in the 2013 Constructors' Championship, Lotus have endured a troubled winter. Maldonado replaced Kimi Raikkonen alongside Romain Grosjean after the Finn, who revealed in September he hadn't been paid all year, left for Ferrari, and the team were left reeling on the eve of the Jerez event by Eric Boullier's unexpected decision to quit as Team Principal.

Yet despite those setbacks, and a series of teething problems with the E22 that limited a frustrated Grosjean to just 26 laps during the first half of the test, Maldonado was in buoyant mood after two productive days in the car.

A close-up of the E22 in Bahrain

"We are getting better and better day after day, which is very positive. We were the quickest with the Renault and we did the most laps - so that's very positive," the South American told Sky Sports.

"We are learning a lot and I am getting my confidence with the car. Communication with the team is very good and we are nearly arriving at where we want to be. For sure, we were expecting more laps, and we had some problems, but the important thing is that we have solved those problems and it was nice and clean today. So we are quite happy."

In the process of registering a heartening 59 laps on Day Four, Maldonado also set the fastest time recorded by any of the four Renault-powered teams, including Red Bull, and Lotus are already targeting being the fastest Renault outfit when the new season commences in three weeks' time.

"I think we could be the lead Renault team. We certainly haven't gone badly this week compared to the other Renault teams and I know they're having a few problems," said Technical Director Nick Chester.

"All we can do really at the moment is just focus on ourselves and do the best job we can. Because even if we're the best Renault-engined team, we've still got to push on and catch the other guys.

"There is still a lot of pace to be found from the E22. We're working with Renault Sport F1 on the operation of the power unit, we only ran the power unit at representative power levels during the last day of the test and there is more time to come from optimising power delivery and allowing the drivers more time to get used to it. We haven't started looking at car setup yet which will unlock more performance."

The third and final test of the winter, which will also be staged in Bahrain, starts on Thursday.

The car was the last of the eleven 2014 challengers to be launched

The third and final pre-season test starts on Thursday morning in Bahrain. The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk on all four days, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.

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