Romain Grosjean has said he thinks there might have been an underlying issue with his Lotus during the Australian Grand Prix.
Whilst his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen won the race, Grosjean finished in 10th position having qualified just one place behind his Finnish team-mate.
“Something felt wrong with my car,” Grosjean said. “I have to sit down with the team and analyze where this issue came from.
“It felt so good all weekend until the race itself. But, in the end, the race was long and quite difficult for me.
“We know that Albert Park can be a tricky circuit and the weather has certainly not helped today. It’s been a great weekend for the team with Kimi’s win so it’s clear there’s pace in the car. Let’s hope I can unlock that pace too next weekend in Sepang.”
Romain Grosjean has admitted the 2012 season took its toll.
Banned in Monza and written off as F1’s ‘first lap nutcase’ by Mark Webber, Grosjean admits he was relieved at the end of December, when Lotus decided he should be given another chance for 2013. With a 2013 seat secured, Frenchman Grosjean went on holiday.
“I think it was good to have a break, it did me good,” he told RMC Sport. “I was much more tired than I thought. It’s about realising just how much fatigue has accumulated, and knowing really what a full season of formula one is about, and that it is not so simple,” added Grosjean.
Romain Grosjean, denounced by Mark Webber last year as the ‘first lap nutcase’, insists he has changed for the better ahead of the 2013 season. But 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve doesn’t think so.
“The only reason he has the chance of winning is because he has an incredible car,” French Canadian Villeneuve, who has been signed up by F1’s new French broadcaster Canal+ for 2013, said.
“His only problem is that he does not learn from his mistakes,” the former Williams and Sauber driver is quoted by France’s RMC Sport.
“I found all of last year’s nonsense amazing,” continued Villeneuve. “He didn’t change from the first to the last race. It’s a shame because he is a very fast driver.”
Of the other F1 drivers, outspoken Villeneuve admitted that his favourite is Fernando Alonso.
“The best car is certainly Adrian Newey’s Red Bull. But apart from Alonso, there is no driver capable of driving at the limit of the car the whole race. When Vettel does, he makes mistakes,” said the 41-year-old.
“The only standout is Alonso. After him, maybe Lewis Hamilton. He is no longer at McLaren, with his family, and so he is not protected any more, but he is a fighter so it will be very interesting,” added Villeneuve.
Lotus’ need for “continuity” helped Romain Grosjean keep his job after the Frenchman’s tumultuous return to F1 in 2012.
That is the admission of team boss Eric Boullier, who along with team owner Gerard Lopez took his time in deciding whether the 26-year-old – derided as F1’s “crash pilot” by many sections of the media – should be replaced.
Asked by Switzerland’s Speed Week why Geneva-born Grosjean ultimately got the nod, Frenchman Boullier answered: “Continuity is a significant factor in a racing team.
“Driver changes bring unrest. Take a look at how stable the driver pairings at the top teams have been in recent years — Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren. This is no accident.
“It takes time and energy to fuse the working methods of drivers and teams,” he said.
As for why Grosjean, who for the second year in succession will be Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus teammate, is the right man for the job, Boullier stated: “Cohesion, courage, speed, freshness.
“And if he develops properly, he can be made not only a grand prix winner, but also a world champion. If he develops the way we want, then soon he will be one of the top five formula one drivers.”
Grosjean made many mistakes in 2012, including the Spa start-line crash that saw him serve an ultra-rare FIA race ban at Monza.
“World champions make mistakes,” Boullier acknowledged, “even if that happens rarely. I just want Romain to be competitive from the first race of the season.”
Romain Grosjean has admitted to relief, after Lotus this week ended a long period of speculation about the Frenchman’s future.
After his often impressive yet error-strewn return to F1 this year, the 26-year-old Frenchman admitted he genuinely feared for his race seat.
“I am happy and relieved,” Grosjean told France’s RMC Sport. “It has been some long and not necessarily very pleasant weeks.”
In the wake of his Monza ban, Grosjean began to put his season back together but then ended 2012 badly in Austin and Brazil.
“The last two races of the season did not help the negotiations,” he admitted. “We sat down together to understand, analyse and especially consider whether we go on again.
“I was clearly concerned about going, losing what I love. When the decision came, I was very relieved,” said Grosjean.
There was speculation Grosjean’s turbulent season had also endangered the backing of his sponsor Total, but the French company said on Tuesday that it continues to support the Swiss-born racer.
“This is a new step in the relationship of trust that we have built together from his first laps, 7 years ago,” said senior vice president Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier.
Grosjean, meanwhile, denied Lotus decided to give him another chance for 2013 after beating the likes of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel at last weekend’s Race of Champions. Asked when the new deal was done, he told Sky Sports: “It was just before the Race of Champions, so it was good to get there and have a weekend of fun with some good guys and really enjoy it.”
Lotus has ended an intense period of speculation by announcing Romain Grosjean is staying with the team in 2013.
At the same time, former Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi admitted he will not be on the F1 grid next season.
Lotus, and major sponsor Total, had reportedly considered ousting 26-year-old Frenchman Grosjean in the wake of his often impressive yet tumultuous return to F1 this year.
Swiss-born Grosjean said late on Monday: “It’s superb to have the support of everyone at Enstone.”
Basler Zeitung, a Swiss newspaper, reacted: “The problem child gets his toy back.”
Lotus is finally getting up-and-running with a state of the art driver simulator, the Dutch website formule1.nl reports.
Romain Grosjean said he got his first taste of the new technology whilst preparing recently for Austin’s brand new Circuit of the Americas layout.
“I spent half a day in the simulator,” said the Frenchman. “There are still some things to be improved, because we are only now starting to use it, but if it works properly it will be of great value,” added Grosjean.