It was not the ending to the season that Lotus had been looking for, as the team came away empty-handed at the end of a lacklustre outing in Brazil on Sunday.

"Clearly this is a disappointing way to end what has been a strong season for the team in often difficult circumstances" conceded team principal Eric Boullier. "Our goal at the start of the year was to improve on last season's fourth place in the constructors championship, and although we may have just fallen short of that target, it has certainly not been through a lack of effort.

"Fourteen podium finishes and 315 points is a commendable improvement on our 2012 performance," he pointed out. "I am extremely proud of everyone who has worked so hard to keep us right at the front of a very competitive pack until the very last weekend of the season."

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Romain Grosjean became the first retirement of the race on Sunday in Sao Paulo when an oil leak resulted in a dramatic engine failure on just the second lap of the race at Interlagos, while Heikki Kovalainen ended the day in 14th place after a slow getaway left him with too much ground to catch up during the race.

"At this point in the season I think everyone needs a holiday, but apparently my engine decided to go on vacation early!," quipped Grosjean after his early exit from the day's action. "Today was obviously disappointing for everyone as they deserved more from this final race after all their hard work

"Of course, that's not the way we wanted to end the year," he added.

However, Grosjean - who will inherit the mantle of team leader in 2014 now that Kimi Raikkonen has departed for Ferrari, leaving the French driver waiting to learn who will be joining him at Enstone next season - was looking on the bright side as reviewed the team's progress over the whole of this season and turned his attention to the next.

"It's been a fantastic season for the team and I think we can be really proud of what we've achieved together. We've proven this year that we are a top team, and I'm certainly proud of all the guys in the garage and back at Enstone," he said.

"But now it's time to get a little bit of rest and then focus on making sure we head into 2014 and the new regulations as one of the top teams once again."

As for Kovalainen, his brief stint at Lotus subbing for his fellow Finn Raikkonen who is recovering from back surgery has ended up in to pointless races, not the sort of performance he wanted to put on as he seeks a full time ride in F1 in 2014.

"It has been a great opportunity to drive for Lotus F1 Team and I'm upset that I was not able to score any points for them today," he sighed. "I think the car is great, but I was not able to unlock the pace and make the most of it.

"I made some mistakes - probably through lack of routine - but I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively," he admitted. "My starts both here and in Austin were really poor, with procedural issues both times meaning I wasn't able to keep pace with everyone off the line. That was disappointing as it's such a big part of the race and it's very difficult to recover positions."

Losing Raikkonen's contribution for the final two races of the year clearly compromised Lotus' championship campaign at the end of the year, as Boullier was quick to agree.

"In Kimi and Romain we have had one of the strongest line-ups on the grid, and I would like to congratulate them both on some fantastic performances throughout the year," he said.

"From Kimi's memorable win at the opening race to Romain's recent run of podium finishes, they have both been superb," he said. "It's going to be a busy winter preparing for the challenges of 2014, but for now we wish everyone a good few days of well-earned rest."

The second driver situation at Lotus remains fluid partly because of uncertainty regarding a much-needed but still elusive investment deal. If it comes together then Nico Hulkenberg might be brought in to partner Grosjean, otherwise the likelihood is that Pastor Maldonado will claim the race seat with his backing from Venezualen gas and oil giant PDVSA.