Lotus driver Romain Grosjean previews the Austrian Grand Prix, looking forward to a circuit he’s never driven at before, hoping to harness the progress made with the E22.
What’s your outlook heading to Austria?
I am positive. Even though the end result in Canada might not show it, we’ve actually made good progress with the car and it’s starting to feel like a real racer in how it handles and how all the systems feel. This is very important to me as it helps me to get the most out of the car through every corner to make the most of every lap. Certainly at the start of the season this new generation of car was not the easiest or the most pleasurable thing to drive, but I’m being won round! The feel of the car is an important aspect of the improvements being made so it’s another piece in the jigsaw.
Have you driven the Spielberg circuit before?
Competing in the grand prix will be my first experience there, which is a pretty cool way to get to know a track! It looks like quite a fun lap with some high speed sections and not too much low speed stuff – which hasn’t suited our car so far this year. The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it’s an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.
How do you prepare going to a track that’s new for you?
There’s a lot you can do with simulators, watching on board laps from other people and going through data and predictions with your engineers as well as driving the track on the Xbox! That said, nothing beats getting in the car and actually driving it for real. I’ll be pretty excited at the start of FP1 as that’s when I’ll really know what sort of track it is.
How do you work on set-up at the same time as learning a new track?
You very quickly know what you want from the car and how to put together all the corners which make a circuit that’s new to you. The objective for learning a track and setting up the car is to go as fast as possible so for both it’s all the same goal.
How frustrating was it to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix?
You never want to stop racing so it wasn’t the best. That said, it was a pretty exciting end to the race so it was good to watch it as it happened! Our target is to be part of the battle of fighting for points positions so we need to ensure we don’t have any more problems with the car. We’re making definite progress with pace, how the car feels and generally with reliability too, so it was frustrating that there was an issue with the rear wing. It’s another lesson learned and we will come back stronger for Austria and beyond.
How competitive do you think you can be in Austria?
We won’t know for sure until we’ve been out on track, but I don’t think the circuit should be as much of a challenge to us as Monaco or Montréal. Certainly there are fewer low speed corners which seem to have been more difficult for us this season and the downforce level could suit us better too.
How has it been working with a new team-mate now you have a good number of races together?
Pastor’s a great guy and easy to work with. We’re both positive and proactive and know what we want from the car and the team. He’s fast too so it keeps me on my toes to beat him!
What are your thoughts on revising the weekend format for grands prix?
As long as there’s a grand prix and qualifying session, that’s the main thing! Whatever happens, it will be the same for everyone. I quite like the idea of a practice session late on Friday as it means I won’t have to get up so early! Let’s see what happens.