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Romain Grosjean Q&A: I had thought we would win 13 Oct 2013

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 celebrates third place with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013

When Romain Grosjean burst through to take the lead at Suzuka at Turn 1 on Sunday, there were a few raised eyebrows. There were more still when the Lotus driver proceeded to pull away from the two Red Bulls. Sadly, however, it wasn’t to be for Grosjean, as ultimately the speed and strategy of the world champions overhauled the young pretender. But after leading for so long, the Frenchman says he now has the taste for victory…

Q: Romain, it almost happened - your first race win. Can you give us your thoughts?
Romain Grosjean:
Yes, today we thought that it would happen. It is one of my favourite racetracks and we are in a good moment with the team and my car, so yes, I thought that today we would win the race. The start was terrific. It was unbelievable. Even when I think about it now, I can hardly believe what happened at the start. (laughs) Suddenly I have the Red Bulls behind me! I could pull away quite easily, which was a real surprise. My first thought then was let’s see what we can do with the tyres. Unfortunately the prime tyres didn’t work as well as we hoped, but never mind. As a sort of compensation the option tyres worked just super - almost without degradation. We knew that the Red Bulls were stronger today, so all in all it was a fantastic race. The team did a great job from Friday to Saturday to Sunday, getting better with each day. Believe me, our plan is to keep in this mode for the last four races.

Q: Obviously it is not only the car that improved, but also the driver. Since the summer break some would say you’ve gone from being a risk factor to being a podium contender. Where has that change come from?
RG:
From hard work. And from a significant rise in confidence. Of course that goes hand in hand with good results. With good results things go much easier than with your back against the wall. It is not that I believe now that I have it all and there are no more things I can improve on, but with a good self-confidence things almost seem to fly towards you.

Q: Is it a coincidence that the moment it was announced that Kimi (Raikkonen) would leave Lotus to join Ferrari, you made a huge leap forward in your performance?
RG:
I don’t think that there is any coincidence. The work for improvement started long time ago. It showed in Bahrain and then in Barcelona. It was there in Silverstone - and so on and so forth. Now I have the car where I like it to be and, of course, when I knew that Kimi was leaving I knew that there was a place to take, so I did my best. It seems to be paying off.

Q: How much disappointment is there that you didn’t win?
RG:
A podium finish compensates quite well for a missed chance. The good news is that from what we’ve seen today, the Lotus is the only car that can finish that close to the Red Bulls because when you look behind there is quite a significant gap.

Q: Did you allow yourself to think that this could be your first win?
RG:
In the first stint, a bit, yes. But when I realized that they were closing in I tried to push a bit more, which didn’t go so well with the tyres and that was when my fate was sealed. Towards the end of the race Sebastian (Vettel) seemed to fly and I was running into some of the backmarkers - that was the end of the P1 dream, and the start of a certain kind of certainty that I would finish on the podium. But being in the lead for 30-something laps - not bad. It was the first time that I led a Grand Prix for so many laps on a normal strategy. So the taste is there.

Q: Does today’s result mean that you will keep your Lotus seat in 2014?
RG:
I don’t know. You have to ask the team. But a good result is the probably the best advertisement for any driver looking for a seat, isn’t it?

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