Grosjean: I’ve been super quick at Monaco, but also hit the walls!

Romain Grosjean crashed out of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix at the first corner

Romain Grosjean crashed out of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix at the first corner

Romain Grosjean heads to the Monaco Grand Prix, as close as it gets to his home race, with points in his pocket and plenty of local support as the Lotus E22 is starting to show promise after a troubled start to the season, which gives the Frenchman the opportunity to strut his stuff at a race where he has suffered two DNFs in the two Formula 1 races he has contested on the streets of the principality.

How did it feel to score the team’s first points of the year in Spain?
Romain Grosjean: It’s great for all the team and they certainly deserved it. They’ve been working very hard at Enstone and at the track and if you look at where we were in Australia and where we are now, it’s a massive step forward. So I’m proud of them all and happy with what we’re doing. It was a good reward for all of us.

What does Monaco mean to you?
RG: It’s kind of the unofficial French Grand Prix first of all! It was great to see so much French support last year, with all the flags and banners. Then there are the unique challenges of such a special circuit. As a driver you have to stay calm and relaxed on a track that doesn’t allow for any mistakes. I’ve been super quick in the past, but also hit the walls! It’s an exciting and glamorous grand prix and always a step into the unknown, because it’s difficult to predict how well each car will work there. It’s a crazy week with all the focus and attention, but everyone loves Monaco.

Romain Grosjean talks to Lotus race engineer Ayao Komatsu

Romain Grosjean talks to Lotus race engineer Ayao Komatsu

What is your favourite part of the track?
RG: Certainly not the walls! I do like the Casino corner which is quite nice, high-speed with a little bit of banking. The most difficult part would be the next section – Mirabeau, Loews and then the two Portier corners because you have to ‘create’ some speed.

How challenging will the new generation of F1 cars be to drive at Monaco?
RG: It will be a challenge. There will be less grip than in the past, so we will have to be careful with the right foot. In terms of mapping, torque, energy and fuel saving I actually think it will be easier than most tracks because the race distance is shorter so we shouldn’t have to worry too much. Of course we’ll need the best driveability possible around the tricky sections, but the most important thing in Monaco is to trust your car and have confidence in it.

How satisfying is it when you put everything together for a good lap around Monaco?
RG: When you finish a lap and you know it’s quick because you’ve given everything and you’re so close to the walls at every corner, it is something special. Finding the balance between pushing too hard and not enough makes a huge difference in Monaco.

Romain Grosjean during the Spanish GP

Romain Grosjean during the Spanish GP

Is it hard to keep your focus during such a busy event?
RG: It true that there are almost too many things to do. I will try to find some time for myself in my room and keep focusing on what I have to do. It’s a home grand prix for the sponsors, so very important for them and for us.

Do you think the recent improvements to the E22 will pay off in Monte Carlo?
RG: The emphasis at Monaco is on low speed corners, which is not our greatest strength, but the team worked with Monaco in mind during the Barcelona test. Bumpy straights and a low grip surface are the other main Monaco characteristics and how well you adapt to them can make or break your weekend. We’ll do our best with set-up – of course Monaco is less engine dependent than most circuits, which is better for us. It was nice not only to score points in Barcelona, but also to be fifth on the grid in Qualifying – if we can do that again in Monaco it’ll be very good for us…

Subbed by AJN.