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Romain Grosjean Q&A: Lotus edging towards ‘perfect weekend’ 21 Jun 2012

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 and Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 13 May 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 (L to R): Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus, Eric Boullier (FRA) Lotus F1 Team Principal and Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Lotus E20 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20, crosses the line to finish 
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 22 April 2012

Success makes anyone more relaxed. That is very obvious with Lotus’s Romain Grosjean - from a shy youngster three years ago, overshadowed by then team mate Fernando Alonso, to a self-confident driver very much on the rise. Grosjean is well aware that some are tipping him for a win in Valencia this weekend, but the professional he has turned into is staying cool and pinning his hopes on reality rather than dreams…

Q: Romain, after your fantastic drive in Montreal you must be sailing on a strong tailwind. And looking at the Valencia track it is one that seems almost designed for the Lotus, so will you do it again on Sunday?
Romain Grosjean:
Ha, if it only would be that easy. But in reality things are a bit more complicated - and moreover things can change very quickly. On paper we look pretty good here. It is hot - that’s a good point for us - and hopefully we can keep this advantage and find a way to make it work.

Q: Are there many similarities between this race track and Bahrain?
RG:
Yes, there are a few similar characteristics: low-speed corners, smooth, not bumpy, but a quite abrasive tarmac. So some common things, yes.

Q: Does that mean if it worked in Bahrain it will also work here?
RG:
Well, it was good in the race and not so good in qualifying, so this time we want to get both things right. We learned some things from Bahrain! (laughs)

Q: Your stock is on the rise and everybody is full of praise for you. Does that make you a different person to the one you were in F1 the last time out back in 2009?
RG:
No difference. I still have blue eyes and brown hair. I’ve matured, but that is a fact of nature. I understand now a few more things. Probably you can say that I grew up, but I am in a completely different environment than back then.

Q: Since Melbourne things have fundamentally changed for you. There you started as someone who had to make us forget your poor first F1 experience - now you are they guy people expect to win the race on Sunday…
RG:
It is probably a surprise for me too. I must say that the team did a fantastic job so far - and that is essential to achieve results. I have built a fantastic relationship with my engineers - and that in turn is important to transform words into action. I think that in Barcelona we made a real step forward and then again in Montreal. And with even small steps you will come to a moment when you can stage the ‘perfect’ weekend. And that can mean a win.

Q: Do you mean you made a step forward or the car?
RG:
That has to be understood as ‘together’: me, the engineers - and subsequently the car.

Q: How was it possible for you to do the longest stint on one set of tyres - 49 laps - in Canada? Did you change your driving style?
RG:
I changed it a little bit and the team helped me a lot to understand where I have to be careful and where I can push. We have been working on that the whole winter season and still do spend a lot of time on it. Canada was the perfect example that the time was spent wisely - 49 laps on the same tyres and we had no issues with them. (laughs)

Q: So how much longer would you have lasted on these tyres?
RG:
A few laps more. We were not in a desperate situation when I pitted. But I have to say that the Montreal track is a very low-degradation track - this might all be different here. But fact is that you need to adapt to a different driving style for qualifying, where you push to the limit, while in the race you need to look at different things.

Q: How much can this long stint be attributed to the car or the driver?
RG:
It was a bit of everything. It is the set-up that you do on Friday, the way that you want your car, then qualifying and then the driving style in the race. Maybe it costs us a bit of time in qualifying, but the important thing is the race and there we’ve been good. At the moment we are balancing not compromising the race and being good in qualifying.

Q: So what is your plan for Sunday?
RG:
Well, the easiest would be to go for pole position, have a good start and be on your own and only react to what the others are doing. That is the fairy tale concept. Reality is that we have to work damned hard tomorrow to get the car in a good shape for qualifying and then see what we can achieve in the race.

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