Romain Grosjean Q&A: No rookie but still much to learn 05 Feb 2012
Back in 2009 Romain Grosjean made his Formula One debut as Fernando Alonsos Renault team mate over seven Grands Prix, after being drafted in to replace Nelson Piquet. Two years later, hes returning to the frontline at the same team (now Lotus) and ready to drive alongside another world champion - 2007 titleholder Kimi Raikkonen. The Frenchman discusses his hopes for the season ahead
Q: How does it feel to have a full-time Formula One drive?
Romain Grosjean: It's just starting to sink in. It's a dream come true to get this drive. A fantastic emotion and a fantastic challenge as well. I think the team has a really good line-up for this year, with Kimi and myself. Hopefully we can do something special. I think I'll only truly realise it when we get to Melbourne and I see my name on the official entry list. For now I'm really happy to be at the factory as much as I can, to get involved with the team and get ready for testing.
Q: How do you view this season - you had a part season two years ago - so is this a part-rookie year?
RG: It's difficult to say how I should view this season. For sure I did seven Grands Prix alongside Fernando and the experience I gained from that was helpful - and is still helpful today. On the other hand there are still some circuits that I don't know. But I don't think we can say I'm a rookie, just because of the experience I have. Let's say that I am a young driver who still has plenty of things to learn in Formula One, but we are all expecting a good season.
Q: How and why is the 2012-specification Grosjean different compared to the 2009 version?
RG: Compared with 2009 I am two years older! No big difference, just an improvement in terms of many small things, including maturity. The 2009 experience was very helpful for me to understand things and grow up from that point. So it was difficult, but very good as well. The 2012 Romain Grosjean sees life a little bit different. My aim is to enjoy my number one passion, Formula One.
Q: How did you get the drive for 2012?
RG: The process for getting the 2012 drive really began with GP2, where my goal was to bring DAMS back to the top and show that I can be a team leader. For sure winning the title was something that we all wanted, but championships can depend on many things. Then there were the two Friday morning sessions in Formula One, which were a real test in terms of seeing if I had the speed, feedback and everything the team was looking for. I knew it was very important and it went well, but then you just have to wait. That was the most difficult part, but I knew I'd done everything - the best I could do - so I had no regrets. I was waiting and just trying to read the faces of the people in the team to imagine what the decision would be! That's always part of this job. You get used to it year after year.
Q: How have your pre-season preparations gone?
RG: My winter preparations have not been too bad. I've just been doing some training until I can drive the car. Fortunately it's not long until the first test on February 7. I'm trying to come to the factory as much as I can, to spend some time and discuss things with the engineers - grab a beer, or whatever! It's a long season - 20 Grands Prix plus testing - to spend with the same people and it's important that you get along well with everyone. I'm very happy to be with them and part of this team. I think I've changed since 2009 and the team sees that. The relationship is much stronger and much better today.
Q: What do you expect will be your biggest challenge in 2012?
RG: Formula One is a big, big challenge, but I think the biggest challenge personally will be to get 100 per cent out of myself and the car, every time. No mistakes. That is the life of a Formula One driver. You need to get 100 per cent out of the car, focus, concentrate and improve lap after lap. So I hope we can have a good car from the beginning of the season, some good ambitions going into the first race and just develop all season long.
Q: How is your knowledge of the circuits?
RG: I don't know Albert Park, I don't know Shanghai, I don't know Canada, America nobody knows, India I don't know and Korea I don't know. So in the early stages of the season I know all the tracks except Albert Park and Shanghai. I know Sepang and Bahrain. We will see what happens.
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