After a highly positive Korean Grand Prix it’s straight to Japan and Suzuka, where Lotus driver Romain Grosjean is in a highly positive state of mind. Bring it on…
What are your thoughts on Suzuka?
I know I won’t be the first one to say this, but Suzuka is definitely my favourite circuit of the year. Every driver has races that are special to them for one reason or another – a home Grand Prix, or the venue for their first win maybe – but I think if you ask most racers they will tell you there’s just something about this place that’s a little bit different. This will be only my third time driving the track, but I’ve been looking forward to it ever since the flag dropped in Korea; it’s simply fantastic.
Why do you think it is that everyone raves about this circuit?
It’s a track that really allows a driver to demonstrate their feel for the car. Not only is combination of corners pretty relentless – so you never really get a rest – but the way the layout flows together means that the smallest mistake can make a big difference to your time. Get it right, and the feeling is amazing. Get it wrong, and you just want to keep trying again and again until you have it nailed. Each sequence is challenging in its own way, and you have to find the perfect balance to put a good lap together. Every track has its challenges, but Suzuka is a continuous test of a drivers skills and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful to drive.
And Japan itself?
Suzuka itself it pretty far out from the busier parts of the country, but the people, the culture, and of course the food all really appeal to me, so it’s somewhere I’d definitely like to explore a little more one day. You can’t help but mention the Japanese fans as well; they really are in a league of their own! Everywhere you look there are people with shirts, flags, crazy hats, and so many other things they have made at home just to show their support for the drivers on one weekend of the year. I don’t think any of us will forget the noise last year when [Kamui] Kobayashi got his first Formula 1 podium in front of his home crowd… my ears were ringing all the way to Korea; it was unbelievable!
Your Race Engineer Ayao Komatsu is Japanese; do you think some extra home knowledge could help you at Suzuka?
I will have to ask Ayao for some special tricks! Certainly I really like Suzuka, the car is looking very good at the moment and maybe Ayao has some local knowledge too. He certainly gets home support so maybe that will help me out on track too.
The Korean Grand Prix was a pretty good showing for the team; you must be pretty happy with your performance?
It was a fantastic result. Of course, one step higher on the podium for me would have been better and two steps up would have been superb. Our battle with Lewis [Hamilton] was good, our pace was great but the safety cars stopped us in our fight for the win. After the restart I should have been in front of Kimi on the road, but it was my mistake which let him past so it was third place on the podium instead of second.
How was it dicing with your team-mate on track, and do you expect more of the same for the rest of the year?
If we’re fighting for the same piece of track and the same position then it means we’re both getting the maximum out of the car, which is a positive thing whichever way you look at it. Obviously we’re both competitive, but our racing has always been fair. I made a mistake in Korea which is why he got past, but this is not something I want to happen again. The team’s philosophy is always to let us race unless we’re on very different strategies where one driver could hold up the other, and this is the right approach. Let’s hope we have some more battles for podium places and I’ll be pushing to be the one ahead.
You were looking good against Sebastian [Vettel]; do you think you were in the fight for the win?
Before the safety car we certainly had a strategy to push Sebastian, however we don’t know how much he had in reserve. Maybe the potential of getting my first win was quite close in Korea, but you can’t set a time frame on these things; you never know when the win might come. (Lotus F1)
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