After a frustrating pre-season, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean contemplates the challenge ahead, explaining how he is expecting plenty of surprises and drama at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
How well prepared do you feel heading in to the start of this season?
Grosjean: Probably not as well prepared as last year, that is for sure! We’ve taken everything we can from the limited running we did in Bahrain and we’re working with that to ensure thatwe can make the best start to the season given the circumstances we face. In Bahrain, every time we ran we improved and there are certainly areas where we are heading in the right direction. These cars are even more complicated than people first thought. With the new power unit there is a lot of work still to be done, both on our side and also on Renault Sport F1’s side. We need to get things together and achieve what we know we are capable of when we have a reliable package.
Will Melbourne effectively become another test session?
Grosjean: No, the aim is to finish the race and maybe score points. We’re not yet in the place we want to be competitively, but we will be there to compete and you never know what could happen with everyone else too. I don’t think any team can say that they are where they want to be heading to the start of the season. Yes, we’re not in a nice situation but it doesn’t mean that it’s game over. We’ll try to score as many points at every opportunity during the season.
With all the new buttons on the steering wheel and new technical challenges to consider, how well prepared for Australia do you feel from a driving perspective?
Grosjean: It’s a little bit challenging at the moment to be honest! We’re changing settings sometimes four or five times a lap which is a little bit too much. However, it was the same first time out with KERS back in 2009 (at Monza). It was a disaster – I remember we had to change the maps around five times in at least five corners. It’s just part of adapting to the new technology; it’s hard to get everything working together immediately. But it makes it more rewarding when we do get everything working as we want.
How do you keep that smile?
Grosjean: Ah, well I think that it’s natural for me! No, it’s useless to run away or get upset. It’s better to sit down together, go through everything we have done, find the positives, and then trust in the people who have to do the work that they do. The best I can do is to drive the car as quickly as I can.
Tell us a little about Albert Park itself – why is it such a cool place?
Grosjean: Albert Park is still one of my favourite grand prix circuits, so it will be good to get there and get the season started and there’s always a great atmosphere. It’s a fantastic track and the changing scenery as you drive through the park is incredible. Of course it’s a great country and I always enjoy visiting Australia. We know it can be a tricky circuit and the weather can make things pretty difficult too – two years ago we had lots of rain and even had to finish Qualifying on Sunday morning! Hopefully the weather will be good this year – it’s been looking pretty hot recently. I guess you can say that everyone will be in the same position of not knowing what to expect, and with all the car changes I imagine there will be a few surprises! For us the weekend will be maximising the time on track, aiming to finish the race and getting the best result possible.
Subbed by AJN.