Q&A With The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean Ahead Of The Japanese GP
The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean heads to the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at the Suzuka circuit having retired from the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend although the Frenchman was classified in 13th place two laps down on race winner Sebastian Vettel.
The Frenchman confirmed last week that he has made up mind about his Formula One future and it is expected that he will leave the Enstone outfit in favour of a move to the new Haas F1 Team who will make their Formula One debut next season using Ferrari power units.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race Grosjean was asked:
Why do you love the Japanese Grand Prix so much?
Suzuka is probably my favourite track in the world and for many, many reasons. Of course 2013 holds a great memory as I led the race for a while. Mainly I love it so much because the track is a massive challenge and also the spectators are so passionate about F1. There is not a single corner on the track that is not a big challenge. When you finish a lap at Suzuka you really appreciate it because you know the car and you have been really tested and that you can be proud if you have got the maximum from everything.
What are the specific challenges of Suzuka?
It’s the kind of track where you find time and improvements, however small, all of the time. It is a very special race track in this respect. Sector one is unbelievable and after you have finished it you can breathe a little bit…but not for long. There is no margin for error with very little run-off area and the track is quite narrow, especially at the top of the hill. I love it. Every metre of the Suzuka track is special and every metre a challenge. The Spoon Curve is especially fantastic, a real thrill to drive in an F1 car.
Where is best for overtaking opportunities at Suzuka?
There are a few good areas like the first corner, but only if you get a good exit from the last chicane. But probably the best one is in to the chicane itself, after the long back straight and 130R. If you get a tow here you can get inside under braking. There is also a small chance at the hairpin and maybe in to Spoon Curve too, but you have to be brave and usually rely on the guy in front to co-operate. Suzuka is quite a narrow track so it is not that easy to overtake, but it is a great challenge and very satisfying when you manage to execute one.
What about the whole experience of being in Japan?
You have to mention the fans. They certainly are special and unique. Suzuka is probably the only place we go to where you arrive at the track on a Thursday and the grandstands are almost full! They replay the race afterwards once, twice, three times and the fans stay at the track until we have gone home. They are brilliant fans, very loyal and knowledgeable about the sport. It is in their culture now and you can’t imagine a Grand Prix not happening in Japan. We have to have a race there anyway because I like to receive my mini-Romain every year from the fans. Fantastic!
How do you think the circuit will suit the E23?
Suzuka is a track that highlights the good aspects of a chassis and it will certainly be a better place to exploit the positives of the E23 than Singapore. At Suzuka the driver can make a difference to some extent, especially through sector one, so I will be pushing very hard here to get the very maximum we can.
What’s your overview of the Singapore Grand Prix?
We tried a strategy which didn’t work. That’s the easy thing to say afterwards, and if it had worked we’d have been pretty happy. We worked well as a team over the weekend to improve the car and qualifying was pretty rewarding after some tough sessions earlier. The race was pretty hard, but we did everything we could but sadly it didn’t work for us. I hope we’re in the right position for a good collection of points in Japan.
When can we expect an announcement about you and 2016?