Mar.12 (Lotus) With GP2 Asia and GP2 Series titles under his belt, Romain Grosjean returns to the place where his F1 career began with a renewed determination and far better prepared for his second bite at the top tier of the sport. He speaks ahead of the season-opener in Melbourne.
How do you feel on the brink of your first full season of F1?
Romain Grosjean: I’m looking forward to Australia and I feel very comfortable with the team. It’s been fantastic throughout testing and we’re all working well together. Of course, we had a third less of pre-season testing than we expected – which was not quite the original plan! The small issue we had in the first Barcelona test can even be seen as a good experience. Everyone worked twice as hard to return to Barcelona the following week and show that we are strong for the season ahead, which I think we are.
Have you been to Albert Park before?
RG: I’ve only been to Australia once before when I was third driver for the team in 2009. The country is fantastic. I love Melbourne. I hope the track will suit me – it certainly looks great. The atmosphere is very special and it was one of my favourite Grands Prix to experience even when I wasn’t driving, so what it must be like to drive it I can’t imagine.
All your testing took place in the dry and Melbourne has notoriously fickle weather. When was the last time you drove an F1 car in the wet?
RG: Brazil 2009 in free practice three. It feels like a long time ago! I’m ready if the track is more slippery, and I’ll try to make the best of it. I like racing in the wet, so maybe it will be a bit of an advantage for me.
The simulator at Enstone has not quite opened for business, so how have you been preparing for Albert Park – a track you’ve never driven before?
RG: I’ve been watching a lot of in-car videos from the on-board camera! I’ve spent a lot of time with my engineers looking at the data from the track from last season. I’ll be running as much as possible in the first free practice session to learn the circuit, get some mileage and build some knowledge of the track. For sure, I’m looking forward to having access to the simulator once it goes live very soon…
What do you think of Albert Park, especially with factors to consider such as its non-permanent nature and the likely track surface evolution?
RG: The track is what it is – it will improve but that only helps you. You don’t particularly feel it too much in the car, you just see it in better lap times. The grip level improves and better lap times come to you – and you soon get used to better lap times! What I saw from the onboard camera from previous years is the track looks good and it looks fun. I hope it will suit the E20.
What are your targets for the year?
RG: My target is to give my best every time I’m in the car; to get the best from the car and to get the best from myself. I want to make the least amount of mistakes possible. I want to get points at every opportunity. I don’t set myself a target of a particular position, I just want to do my best and do my job as well as I can so I can bring some good points to the team.
Do you have a particular race start routine?
RG: I used to have a particular routine, but it’s not something I go out of my way to follow now. It’s something I do more from familiarity. I usually get into the car from the right side, but that’s not to say I won’t ever get in from the other side. I’ll try to be relaxed, get myself in the right frame of mind then tell myself ‘come-on, we’re going to race now!’ It’s a fantastic experience to start a Grand Prix. I can’t wait to go for it.
What’s your emotion when you’re sat on the grid after the formation lap?
RG: You have to be really calm. When you’re at your best, you’re really calm but very attentive. You need to be ready to go as soon as the lights change. It’s something which is tough to get exactly right; that balance of high concentration and high focus.
How have you found the reaction to your return to Formula 1?
Grosjean: I’m surprised that so much was made of it in France, but it makes me happy. The car looks good for the season ahead so that creates more attention. We’re all very excited.
Has the amount of media attention surprised you?
RG: In a way, yes, but I’d prefer to be in this position than having no attention and not being in Formula 1! It’s good that people are paying attention to what we’re doing – it’s a good sign. I hope it continues.