F1: Lotus owner Gerard Lopez claims Romain Grosjean is a wanted man and believes he could 'drive for any team' on the grid

Grisjean has come through a difficult period to become Lotus' lead driver and Lopez feels the team can help Pastor Maldonado in the same way

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The Independent Online

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez has revealed Romain Grosjean is a wanted man - and believes the team can do the same for troubled Pastor Maldonado.

Following a turbluent 2012 during which Grosjean was involved in a number of crashes and ended up serving a one-race ban, the Frenchman has since turned his career around.

With Kimi Raikkonen no longer with the team following his return to Ferrari, Grosjean is effectively seen as team leader and has risen to the challenge this season.

In the face of adversity given Lotus' tough start to the campaign, Grosjean has kept his cool, conjuring the team's first points of the year in Spain where he was eighth after qualifying fifth.

Speaking to Press Association Sport ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, Lopez concedes he may face a fight this year to keep Grosjean as he said: "We don't have the budget of some of the other teams, so there is a point up until which we will fight.


"But Romain is really happy here, he is part of the family, and I don't think he is planning on going anywhere.

"His drives last year meant there were a couple of teams knocking on the door to find out what he was doing, and now we've the same this year.

"I'm not saying Romain is going, but what I am saying is that here is a driver who was criticised, and now suddenly people are saying he is a driver who could pretty much drive for any team."

Maldonado has endured similar criticism throughout his career in F1, and is renowned for his often erratic performances and temperament.

With the car finally starting to show pace and reliability, more will be expected of Maldonado, in particular after his qualifying crash at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya which resulted in him starting last on the grid.

Lopez is convinced they can work on the Venezuelan's character and teach him the error of his ways, as the team did with Grosjean.

"It's a case of working with him to make sure he is comfortable," added Lopez.

"He had an easy weekend (in Spain) until qualifying, and he would easily have been in Q3.

"When I say 'easy', he pushed but didn't really have to push until he probably decided he had to push more in qualifying when it probably wasn't required.

"He's a driver who needs to understand that in certain circumstances, with his speed, then 95, 96, 97 per cent should get him to where he wants to be, and then once in Q3 give it 100, 105.

"We've lived partially the same thing with Romain, and people wrote him off, but now, as I say, we've people knocking on our door to see if he can be in their team.

"We will take a long-term view on things, so we're not particularly worried. We'll get the best out of Pastor.

"We think we can do the same with him, as we did with Romain, to ensure he is at his best every race weekend, and consistently throughout the weekend. I have a lot of faith in him."