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Two to go

8 November 2013

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 India and Abu Dhabi as the Enstone-based team continues its fight to secure a top three championship finish...

Hi all,

The last time I wrote to you was before we headed to India and a race that I felt could be a good one for the Lotus F1 Team.

That turned out to be correct with Romain and Kimi both scoring points, with Romain in particular producing a really good drive to finish on the podium despite his problems in qualifying.

For sure, Romain is a lot more confident now than he has been in the past and I think his results have almost given him an extra charge. In Singapore, he was heading for the podium but was unlucky with his retirement. However, in the two races that followed he was on the rostrum both times and was getting more confident.

In India, he did well and I think we are now starting to see the real Romain Grosjean. Before, he could produce good results in qualifying but couldn't always repeat it in the races. Saying that, this season he hadn't always shown his true speed in qualifying, especially in the early part of the year, but since the summer break, he has shown he is a driver capable of fighting for the championship. He is comparing well alongside a great champion in Kimi Raikkonen, and Kimi is now struggling a bit in comparison to Romain. He really is in top gear at the moment.

During the Indian race, there was the 'incident' between Romain and Kimi when they went side-by-side for position.

A lot was said by people about it, but you have to remember that Romain was recovering positions on really good tyres and in the last few laps, Kimi was on tyres that were really old and his pace was lower – so the team was thinking that he was going to lose positions.

Romain had Felipe Massa right behind him so in order to deliver a podium position, we needed Kimi to let Romain through without a fight. The team asked three times for Kimi to move away on the main straight to let Romain through, but Kimi fought a bit too much and the team had to make the order in a hard way. He eventually let Romain pass, so it was the end of the story.

However, it was turned into a big story because of the way the team asked Kimi to move over but when there is tension in the race and in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult for the team. They didn't want to lose time and they shouted at Kimi, but they apologised afterwards and there was no problem.

There were a lot of reports about Kimi in Abu Dhabi, and it is a bit of a strange situation at the moment as we have him challenging for third place in the championship but having already signed for one of our competitors in Ferrari. That doesn't make it easy for him either, as he has to try and beat his new team.

Kimi was very unlucky in Abu Dhabi as he had done a great job in qualifying to be fifth on the grid, but then had to take a penalty that meant he started last. It was unfortunate that he was involved in a crash at the first corner and when you consider that the driver who finished in tenth place was more than 70 seconds behind the leader, I'm sure that there was a chance for Kimi to finish the race seventh or eighth.

Romain was also a bit unlucky because he found himself stuck in traffic during the race and it cost him the chance of finishing on the podium again. Without that, it would have been possible for him to finish in the top three especially after the pace he showed on Friday during practice. In the race, he finished just behind Nico Rosberg and that was after being stuck behind Adrian Sutil.

In terms of the points, we lost out to Mercedes in Abu Dhabi and with two rounds to go, we are now really fighting with Ferrari for third place.

At the moment, we are faster than them and we are getting closer in the points as we head for the USA. Maybe we could get a bit of luck there and they might have some bad luck, which will allow us to bring the gap down. From the outside, the gap - 26 points - looks big but we are doing the maximum we can to achieve the results we need. We really need to have both drivers on the podium in Austin and at Interlagos, which isn't going to be easy. However, we'll keep fighting hard.

Away from F1, my time as the reigning GP2 champion ended in Abu Dhabi with the final rounds of the season. It was an interesting weekend because there was Fabio Leimer against Sam Bird, who had recovered a lot of points in the past few races. Everyone thought that Bird was going to win the title but he made an incredible mistake at the start of race one and he lost everything.

Leimer who was the most consistent person in qualifying all season, more or less in the top five every time, won the title and I think he deserved it because when it was important, he didn't make any mistakes. Bird however made the mistake when he was starting in front of Leimer on the final weekend and it cost him.

Maybe the only negative thing for Leimer is that he didn't have a good race when he was forced to start from the rear of the field, but always performed well when he was at the front. At the end of the day though, he deserves to be the champion and I hope he has the luck to be involved in F1 next season. It isn't easy and last year, the top two drivers didn't make it into an F1 race seat, so I hope he can be luckier.

The GP3 champion already knows he will be in F1 but I think that Daniil Kvyat is a very good driver. I watched him in Abu Dhabi and he destroyed the opposition. He was perfect that weekend and he is extremely lucky to have been promoted from GP3 straight into F1.

It isn't frustrating for me to see that happen because I have shown what I can do in winning the GP2 title and winning GP2 Asia before that. I'm sure that if it get the chance to race in F1, I will show my quality and will be strong enough to fight inside the top six.

I just have to wait for my chance, be professional and show that I deserve it. The team still has to choose the successor to Kimi for next season and I hope to be the man.

There is no frustration, and all my focus is on doing my job.

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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