Romain Grosjean started from ninth position for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone
and had every hope of figuring in the battle for a podium position, until a first lap incident damaged the front wing of his Lotus and seemed to have wrecked his hopes of a good race.
"I had an incident on the first corner at the start of the race where I was on outside of Lewis, and had a Force India
that hit me and broke my front wing," said Grosjean of the collision with the rear of Paul di Resta's car.
"There was a little bit of confusion at turns 3 and 4, and I was on the outside at turn 3. The Force India
came from the inside and just touched my front wing with his rear wheel," he elaborated. "It was a shame but there's nothing you can really do in these situations."
Di Resta came off the worse for it with a puncture sending him off the track and into retirement shortly thereafter; Grosjean meanwhile limped around back to the pits for a new front wing, fearing the worst for his prospects of any sort of decent result.
"I thought that our race was going to be seriously compromised," he admitted. "It would have been if the rain had come"
But instead the rain stayed away, and the Lotus team reacted with a revised race strategy that gave him a chance to recovering into the points. In the end he did even better than that and finished in a strong sixth place all the way from the back of the field, running just behind his team mate Kimi Raikkonen
who had been enjoying a relatively untroubled if unspectacular race by comparison.
"The team did a fantastic job in giving me a great race strategy and we believed in ourselves to go for long stints with both sets of hard tyres," said Grosjean. "I was still battling hard with the cars around me, but trying to save the tyres at the same time.
"Kimi was too far in front of me to catch him at the end of the race," he added. "It became harder towards the end of the race but I hung on to my sixth place," which he described as "quite unbelievable" in the circumstances.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier agreed, describing Grosjean's performance as "very fast and very strong," but added that the team had work to do as a whole on their qualifying performance and to find the 'missing link' to push them past their rivals on the track in race conditions.
"As a team, we had good strategies, our car was fast and consistent and fifth and sixth position yield good points; once again our car was strong on a different circuit and in a variety of conditions," said Boullier. "We're still missing something to get the final piece of the jigsaw, but it's a nice frustration to have."
For his part, former world champion Raikkonen was left regretting not being able to stay ahead of Mark Webber
at the start. "If I had stayed in front of Mark at the start it would have been pretty good seeing where he finished!" he said.
"I had a pretty okay first few corners but I had to avoid the cars in front and drove over the kerb on the inside of the turn, then I lost a place and was pushed wide," he explained. "If I'd had a better start I could have finished much better; but that's racing and sometimes you pay a bigger price than you expect from the first lap."