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Exclusive Q&A with Lotus's Romain Grosjean 02 Nov 2013

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 1 November 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 1 November 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 at the autograph session.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 1 November 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013

Since Kimi Raikkonen announced his imminent departure from Lotus, Romain Grosjean has risen to the role of team leader-elect in some style, generally out-driving the former champion and finishing on the podium at the last three races. Grosjean insists his rise started long before Raikkonen’s news, but does admit that the Finn’s exit plan has provided an opportunity he couldn’t refuse…

Q: Romain, you must be the most-improved driver of the season. Have you finally found your balance in Formula One racing?
Romain Grosjean:
Ha, balance is probably a good word as it is a combination of my work at the track, at the factory and at home. And, of course, the more experience I have adds to the situation, plus good results do make a difference and do you make feel stronger.

Q: So could it be that success breeds success?
RG:
No, that doesn’t really describe my situation, because I had already felt success beforehand. So obviously it’s also due to the work I have done back home.

Q: Your contract with Lotus for 2014 seems to be a formality. Or do you have any doubts that you will stay with the team?
RG:
Indeed it is pretty close. We are good together and we are doing a good job together. It is no secret that we were expecting some money to come, so it is not easy for the team right now, but in the overall philosophy we want to stay together.

Q: That sounds as though you’re pretty sure of staying - also for continuity reasons…
RG:
Yes, with Kimi (Raikkonen) leaving it makes me the continuity part! (laughs) And that is what we are willing to do. But as long as you are not confirmed, any option is open.

Q: Is that bothering you?
RG:
Not really. Sure, it would be more comfortable to have a contract for the future, to know where you’re going, and if you don’t it’s a bit tricky. But on the race weekend I only focus on racing and don’t allow these thoughts to occupy too much of my thoughts.

Q: How is it to transform from a shaky candidate to a seeded driver?
RG:
True, I didn’t make it easy for myself in the past. Sometimes I’ve been my own worst enemy. But when you’re able to put these things aside and improve, you come back stronger. Sometimes the bad makes the good, if you never lose your self-confidence.

Q: With only three 2013 races left, can you reflect on the good, the bad and the fantastic of your season?
RG:
Ha, the bad clearly was the start of the season when the car clearly didn’t suit me and we had some technical issues. The good is the recent form that we have had, and the fantastic is the podium finishes lately.

Q: Lotus team principal Eric Boullier agreed that the news of Kimi’s departure seemed to ‘unlock’ something in your head. Is that so?
RG:
No, not really. But yes, it was a good opportunity for me to show that I was able to be a team leader and move forward and step it up. But for me this process started much earlier. But sometimes, when you make progress you send some stronger signals to people, and probably that has shown. But yes, Kimi’s announcement of leaving the team was an opportunity for me.

Q: In India there was an issue on track with Kimi - can you explain what happened? This time Kimi was asked to move over…
RG:
Well, right now the fight over P2 in the constructors’ championship is very tight so now we have to race for the team. Very often it happened to me that I had to let Kimi pass. Even though it was never an easy thing to do, it was for the benefit for the team. So yes, India was a bit of an emotional moment - and the wording that is used on the team radio is sometimes not really meant for the outside world - but these things happen in the heat of the moment.

Q: You will get a new team mate next season - do you have any favourites? The names of Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado or even Felipe Massa are all out there…
RG:
I don’t really care. It would be good to have a quick team mate - and all three you just mentioned have a load of experience…

Q: …but Hulkenberg and Maldonado you know from your junior days, whereas Massa must be a whole new world…
RG:
Yes, I was in a team with Nico. And from Massa I could probably get good advice on how to raise a child, as he’s got two sons.

Q: Three times in a row you’ve been on the podium - how was that?
RG:
Fantastic. The view from up there is incredible - and I love champagne!

Q: Can you add a fourth this weekend? The odds from qualifying look reasonably promising…
RG:
Yes, it’s looking really good - even though we had an issue in qualifying and lost P3 on the grid, which would have made my life much easier tomorrow. But the race is long and degradation will be quite high and mostly that plays to our advantage. So yes, a fourth time on the podium would be nice.

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