Published May 27, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS – The long, bad month for Lotus ended quickly Sunday.
Both of the engine manufacturer's cars were black-flagged on lap 11 and pulled out of the Indianapolis 500 for going too slow.
Simona de Silvestro's car was running 14 mph slower than the race leaders, while France's Jean Alesi was running laps 15 mph slower. Either way, the only two drivers in the 33-car field that had a Lotus engine couldn't complete laps within the so-called 105 percent time limit of the leaders as mandated by Indy Car rules.
"I gave it my best shot today," said Alesi, who made 201 career starts in Formula One and was the oldest rookie in Indy history.
Alesi, who will turn 48 in two weeks, said he plans to drive again at Indy next year -- perhaps with a stronger engine.
The Lotus cars have struggled all year, far behind Honda and Chevrolet. The Chevys have powered Team Penske to four straight wins this season.
The early exits were no surprise because the Lotus cars were the slowest at the 2.5-mile oval all month.
De Silvestro of Switzerland qualified 32nd last weekend, more than 12 mph off Ryan Briscoe's pole-winning speed. Alesi started 33rd and last after qualifying almost 16 1/2 mph off Briscoe's pace.
They were so slow that Alesi and some of the other drivers were concerned the slower cars could become a dangerous impediment on race day.
Track officials decided not to help Lotus by providing extra boost for the race and instead decided to rely on the series rulebook to help keep the race safe.
De Silvestro was stopped after completing only 10 laps in the 200-lap race. Alesi finished only nine laps. They were the first two cars out of the race.