In Davide Valsecchi's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Lotus F1 Team third driver and 2012 GP2 Series Champion reflects on the races in Singapore, Korea and Japan as the Enstone-based team looks to end the year on a high...

Hi all,

The last time I wrote to you was at the end of the European season, which had been a difficult spell for the Lotus F1 Team.

The races in Belgium and Italy hadn't been kind in terms of results and we'd lost ground in the Constructors' Championship, which meant we needed to try and fight back when we got to Singapore for F1's annual night race.

The race turned out to be one of mixed emotions for the team. Kimi [Raikkonen] put in a really good performance after a difficult qualifying session to finish on the podium, but it was really disappointing for Romain [Grosjean].

He had been quick all weekend and it looked like a podium finish could have been possible in the race but then a technical problem with the engine forced him to retire. I don't think he could have won the race, as I think Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were unbeatable that evening, but he could certainly have finished second or third.

When he came back to the paddock, he was obviously disappointed and the whole team was disappointed for him, because he deserved more. However, he would fight back well in the races that followed...

A lot of the talk after Singapore wasn't about the actual race, but more about what happened afterwards with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

On one hand, I thought it was a great move that put on a good show for everyone that was watching. Webber was very brave to jump on Alonso's car for a ride back! However, the way Alonso stopped to collect him was very dangerous as he stopped on the exit of the corner in the middle of the circuit. He could have moved further on past the corner and pulled closer to the wall where it would have been safer.

It was something that was a great show for Formula One, just not done in the perfect way.

From Singapore, we headed to Korea, and ahead of the race there were question marks about Kimi's fitness because of some issues he'd been having with his back.

I was ready to jump in and drive if he hadn't been fit, but in the end there was no problem and he was fine to compete. He didn't suffer with his back and it showed he was right to race as we ended up getting both cars on the podium on race day.

That result was really important for the team because it helped us recover some of the points to the teams in front in the Championship. Ferrari and Mercedes had been able to pull away a bit in the final European races, so we knew that we needed to score well to fight back against them. To try and get into second or third is important for us in the standings and would mean a lot to everyone in the team, plus it is also worth a lot of money.

We then put in a good performance in Japan, with Romain in particular driving really well all weekend. He was competitive in free practice and qualified fourth but it was in the race where he really impressed. Romain was the only driver who was able to fight against the Red Bulls and he was getting 100 per cent out of the car.

He had a great start to the race and led for a while, but in the final stint, Red Bull just had the edge over him. However, Romain was more than 30 seconds ahead of Alonso in fourth, which shows how competitive our car is against our rivals.

Romain has had some good results in recent races and he seems to be getting better and better. He has done a good job in qualifying a lot this season but hasn't always been able to achieve the results on race day for different reasons. Now he is starting to get the race results to match his qualifying.

Kimi picked up more solid points in Japan with fifth place, and it continues his run of finishing the race higher than he qualified. He hasn't quite been able to get the speed over a single lap in qualifying this season but he always races well, as he has showed in the last three grands prix. No matter where he qualifies, Kimi is always there when it matters at the end of the race.

While Japan was a good weekend on track, it was a very sad off it with the news that Maria de Villota had passed away. She was a very gentle and kind woman, and was very unlucky with what happened. She had faced a difficult recovery from her accident and it was a shock to everyone in the paddock to hear that she had died. Everyone felt a bit of pain at the news.

Looking to the future, we are getting better and better and seem to be improving, while some of the other teams are dropping away. We will keep fighting against Ferrari and Mercedes for second place in the standings as we have points to recover, but there is still a long way to go.

Mercedes were unlucky in Japan because of the incident with [Lewis] Hamilton so it was important for us to take advantage when there was the opportunity to take points off them. It's what we have to keep doing in the final races, starting next time out in India.

Hopefully we can go well in India and score more solid points but if I'm being honest, I think we have more chance of fighting for victory in the following race in Abu Dhabi. The circuit at Yas Marina is one that is almost perfect for our car and it is a race where we should be able to challenge right at the front of the field. We won the race last year with Kimi, and while we do our best in India, I think Abu Dhabi is the place where we have the opportunity to shine again this season.

Until next time,

Davide Valsecchi

To keep tabs on the Lotus F1 Team's progress in 2013, simply follow this link: www.lotusf1team.com

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