FOLLOWING THE LAUNCH OF THE LOTUS F1 TEAM E21, DRIVERS KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN AND ROMAIN GROSJEAN LOOK TO THE SEASON AHEAD.
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion talks of his hopes for his second season with Lotus F1 Team after a successful comeback to the sport
What are your thoughts heading into your second season with Lotus F1 Team?
I’m feeling pretty good. Last year was my return to Formula 1 and it went pretty well. This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in Formula 1 so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about. For me, I will continue to do the best I can; let’s see how good our car is, and how good the cars of the opposition are too.
Is the continuity of going into your second season with the team beneficial to you?
It helps. It’s not a massive thing which will suddenly mean you start winning all the races, but it’s nice to be at the same team as you understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We quickly developed a pretty good way of working together last year and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue this season.
Are you still learning as a driver?
I don’t think you ever stop learning, but there is less to learn than if you’re a rookie. I don’t think I could say I’m a rookie. We had new tracks last year; that’s always something nice to learn and for me best learnt on the tracks themselves. There will be a new car which we’ll want to develop and get working at its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything’s pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar.
This is the second year of a two-year deal; are you thinking of 2014 and beyond?
I’m not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I’m sure there will be talk before the end of the year. I enjoyed my comeback to Formula 1 last year and there’s no reason to say I shouldn’t enjoy the 2013 season too. I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who’s to say that won’t be exciting.
Have you set yourself targets and objectives for the season?
To do the best job I can. I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013.
Do you think the team has what it takes to win a championship?
Yes, I think they do. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.
Are you looking forward to working with Romain again?
We had a pretty good relationship last year and it’s clear he’s fast and motivated. On track we were pretty close to each other at times but we didn’t have any issues. It’s good when you have a team-mate who’s fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.
Do you think you proved a point in 2012?
Maybe for other people, but not for myself. I knew I could still perform well in Formula 1 given the right opportunity; it was only other people who had doubts.
Romain Grosjean: “I want to score a lot of points for the team”
With his first full season of Formula 1 now in the bank, Romain Grosjean looks ahead to 2013 and a chance to build on a promising start to his second Lotus F1 Team career
How is the Romain Grosjean that starts the 2013 season different from the Romain Grosjean who started the 2012 season? How have you changed?
Well first of all I’m older! No, it’s clearly different for me this year. I have much more experience in Formula 1 and even if I knew the team before, I now know how to work with the engineers much better on the technical side. I also know all the tracks and understand better the various challenges of a season. Generally things worked out pretty well, although some things didn’t always turn out as good as we wanted. It’s going to be very interesting to start the new season.
What are your targets or objectives for 2013?
I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year.
What did you learn most last season?
It’s tough to pick just one thing. You start your career in Formula 1 thinking ‘Okay, that’s a new challenge, a tough challenge’ but then you work into the season and you think ‘Whoa! This challenge is even bigger than I thought!’ All the elements of a Formula 1 season including the travelling – energy-wise, managing the jet lag – the media and marketing stuff, the physical demands and preparation for driving the car are quite something. I know what I need much better now and that’s what I’ve learnt from last year.
How good did it feel to finally get confirmation for 2013, which came very shortly after you became the ‘Champion of Champions’ at the Race of Champions?
There were a few things which we had to go over before a decision was made and for sure it wasn’t nice waiting, but it was certainly very nice to get the confirmation. The timing was good too; just after the Race of Champions win, which was a coincidence. It allowed me to have a much better winter.
How much input have you had on the E21? Did you have a wish list of what you would like?
All through last year, the feedback given about the E20 was interpreted by the development team for the E21. This means there’s a lot of information from me and Kimi which went into this car. It’s difficult to say after the season ‘we would like this or that’ for next year. I think it’s more about the work done during the whole season; discussing this or that, or an idea about this or that. After twenty races you know more-or-less what has been good with the car and what hasn’t. Hopefully we’ve made the right calls for this year.
How exciting have the developments been behind the scenes at Enstone?
I like the development process and I really like seeing the new car ‘growing up’. You see the first design, you see it being tested in the wind tunnel and then finally after a long time you see the finished car. It’s very interesting and I really like to follow it and understand as much as I can, without being an engineer. It’s always good.
Do you think you have a point to prove in 2013?
I think everyone is waiting to see if I’m able to be consistent, which is where I was lacking a little bit last year. I know it and I’ll do everything I can to prove to people that I’m able to achieve this goal.