Romain Grosjean is hoping that the level playing field provided by the new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi will allow him to show enough performance to retain his place in the Formula One elite next season.
Despite winning the GP2 Asia Series at his first attempt, and then being a frontrunner in the main 'summer' championship prior to his graduation to F1, the Franco-Swiss driver has yet to show that he deserves a place in the top flight. Although many will point to the fact that he has been saddled with a below-par Renault for his debut, a best result of 13th last time out in Brazil is still some way off those posted by disgraced predecessor Nelson Piquet Jr, leaving Grosjean's future hanging in the balance as Renault attempts to recover from the off-track battering it has taken in 2009.
Aware that he has potentially just one outing on which to stake his claim to a place on the grid next season, the RDD graduate has already stated that his aim is to match storied team-mate Fernando Alonso in Abu Dhabi, knowing that comparisons with the soon-to-leave double world champion would stand him in good stead when it comes to selling himself to teams for 2010. As things stand, however, his options appear extremely limited, with little public interest having been expressed in his services.
"As it's a new track for all the drivers, things should be easier for me as we all have to learn the circuit," he pointed out, "My aim is to try and match Fernando, qualify well and, hopefully, fight for points in the race."
Although he qualified promisingly in the lottery that was the prolonged timed session at Interlagos, Grosjean struggled to adapt to the conditions on raceday and failed to move up the order by the end of the 71 laps.
"I thought the track was amazing and very challenging although, with the changeable weather, it was difficult to learn the limits of the circuit and find a good set-up," he explained, "In the race, I made a good start, but I had some problems warming the tyres, so I was missing grip in the early laps and lost a lot of places. The car felt better at the end of the race but, because of the problems at the start, it was too late to recover."
With teams not exactly sure what to expect in Abu Dhabi, Grosjean knows that he needs to be on top of his game at the most picturesque new circuit to join the F1 schedule in years.
"It will be a new adventure for everyone and I'm very curious to see what it's like as there has been so much expectation for this track," he noted, "The photos I've seen of the marina look amazing and I'm sure it will be a great way to end the season."