It’s the race he missed last year after the ban slapped on him at Spa, so Romain Grosjean is eager to set the record straight with a strong performance in this year’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza where he will be appearing for the first time as a Lotus driver.
You had a different strategy to your competitors in Spa; could there be a similar approach at Monza?
Romain Grosjean: At Spa, considering where we were in the first half of the race, we had to attempt something a bit different as raw pace wasn’t our strong point. Then, with the new tyres I felt that the grip was much higher than before, but I knew that it would be difficult to get the time back. We tried something different and you never know; had it rained in the middle of the race we could have been well-placed to take advantage. For Monza, we won’t know what we will do until we’ve run in the practice sessions, checked all the data and then after qualifying – when we know our grid position – we’ll decide the options for strategy. Even then it’s not decided, as you have to adapt in the race. Let’s see what happens.
How much are you looking forward to racing at Monza?
RG: Very much. It’s a race I wasn’t allowed to contest last season and as a racing driver all you want to do is race, so I can’t wait to take to the track for the first time in practice on Friday morning. It’s a very historic venue; a beautiful circuit in a fantastic location and racing there is always great. It’s a special feeling when you are blasting through the park along the Monza straights, and there are so many really enthusiastic fans there. I have to admit though, it’s not only the racing I’m looking forward to as Italian cuisine is superb. I’ll be visiting a couple of restaurants during my stay…
What are the challenges of the circuit?
RG: For the designers, you need to have a car that’s very slippery through the air. Then for the engineers, you have to make the correct decision on gearing to make the most of the slippery car and engine power along the straights. For the driver in the car, there are a couple of heavy braking areas where you are slowing from the highest speeds of the year, so you have to be careful to get your braking right otherwise you can overshoot the corner. You see that quite a few times over the weekend.
Any other considerations?
RG: It can be quite hot there sometimes and it can be hard on the tyres. Considering that this is where we seem to have an advantage with our car, let’s hope for both! You use the kerbs quite a bit, which looks good on the slow motion cameras but you certainly know about it in the car! Basically, it’s a pretty great track.
What are your memories of this circuit?
RG: I was on the podium last time I raced at Monza, which was in the GP2 Series in 2011.
Wouldn’t it be great to return to the podium this year?
RG: That’s what we’re trying for, of course, so let’s see what happens.
You’re P8 in the FIA F1 Drivers’ Championship and have been scoring points consistently these last few races; that’s a positive aspect?
RG: Yes, Spa was the third grand prix in a row that I’ve been in the points, which is good for the championship. There are races where we are fast and everything goes well like in Germany, then there are races when it isn’t as easy like in Spa, so to be still scoring points when things are a little more tricky is positive. Let’s hope Monza is positive. (Lotus F1)
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