Up until the Bahrain Grand Prix Romain Grosjean had been completely overshadowed by teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus, but at Sakhir on a hot dusty afternoon the Frenchman stepped out of the shadows to kick start his season. Although he did not beat his illustrious teammate, at least Grosjean was in the same league for a change. He spoke at the post race functions.
Romain great race. You must feel a little bit of pressure off the shoulders because although this is only race four, the first three races didn’t really give you the results you were looking for. How do you feel?
Romain Grosjean: Yeah, that’s completely true. The first three races have been consistent but not what where we wanted. We worked hard, the whole team. It wasn’t easy to find out what was missing to get the feeling back into the car but basically we got it. Started the race with a strategy a bit different from everybody. We started on the hard tyre, thinking that we go long on the first stint, but got the debris on the car, so the race was a bit harder and we had to do some good fights on track but this is why we’re racing and what we enjoy. So, very pleased to be here, same as last year. Now just keep this consistency and get the results.
At the end you seemed awfully pleased with that third place, congratulations to be back on the podium. You say ‘this is where we should be’. Do you also believe this is where you should be?
RG: We’ve got a difficult start to the season. I think we’ve put in a lot of work and effort to understand what was exactly going on – I think we came back where we should be. Yesterday qualifying was a bit disappointing but never mind, we had a lot of new sets of tyres for today, which was good. At the start of the race… well after the first few laps there wasn’t optimism because we have a lot of big debris coming into the radiator and the rear brakes and we had to pit it very early because the temperature was going up. So I knew that the two first stints would be normally quite long on hard tyres and then do short on mediums but we had to pit and change the tyres. But then the car was good. And I think it was one of the races where I had the most overtaking manoeuvres and fights on track. Easy, not so easy, and the last ten laps was pretty good because I had a Force India in front of me. I knew I was much quicker but for how many laps is the medium because they start to lose pace? So I was trying to take care of them but at the same time pushing hard and finally back on the podium. The same podium as last year, so it’s pretty good to be here.
We read that Alain Prost said that your problem at the beginning of the season was self-confidence. Do you think that a result like this – if that is the problem – can help you?
RG: I think that the fact that you’re able to come back from a very difficult situation proves that I think he was wrong. I haven’t seen him this year, I have a deep respect for what he did but I think it’s easy to speak when you are not here.
Did the new chassis help at all?
RG: No. It was different matters. We got a bit lost last year. Our struggle mid-season – Hockenheim, Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps – and then we came back. There is so much technology with those cars and it’s true that Pirelli tyres are not easy to drive and every time we have a small problem somewhere it makes it worst but when you manage to get it right then it’s OK. It was just something with the feeling of the car; when you’re not confident with your car it’s not self-confidence, it confidence in your car, there’s nothing you can do.
Was it possible to do a two stop strategy like Kimi today? And do you expect the same kind of performances in the next races?
RG: Well, it would have been possible if we hadn’t had to stop on lap six or seven, due to the temperature problem and the front wing from a McLaren that flew and completely blocked the radiators. We had to stop because we were having water issues and the rear brake drum was completely closed, the brakes were not working any more. Kimi was in front of me, so it was better to stop rather than losing the brakes. Then tyre management was OK, I think it’s getting better and I don’t see any point where shouldn’t be able to repeat the performance.