Romain Grosjean has admitted that a return to the F1 podium could be on the cards at the Hungarian Grand Prix - provided he curbs the tendency to make mistakes in the early stages of the race.
The Frenchman has two top three finishes to his name since returning to the top flight at GP2 Series champion in 2012, but has also thrown away the chance of more with errors, such as those in Malaysia, Monaco and Germany. Robbed of a potential maiden victory by alternator failure on the streets of Valencia, the Lotus driver put himself in contention to finally break through by putting his E20 on the front row of the grid in Hungary, his best F1 starting position, but accepts that he now needs to keep his head if he is to challenge polesitter Lewis Hamilton and take advantage of Lotus supposedly better raceday performance.
"The key is to stay on track, that's for sure," he acknowledged, "Let's have a good start, let's see where we are at the beginning of the race and how the car feels. Hopefully, it's going to feel alright, as it did in Bahrain or Canada, and, if we have this, then I think we have everything in our pocket to fight for a good result.
"We normally have a good race pace, so it's good to be back at the front. We had a difficult German Grand Prix and a difficult start here in Hungary, but the guys did a fantastic job trying to help me set up the car, trying to find out what was wrong and [we're] back at the top and it's good.
"I think the race will be interesting. Being here on the front row is something special – especially here at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where we know overtaking is very difficult. We need to start from the front, we've said that [for] a long time – so first job done. Hopefully, we [can] keep our [usual] race pace, save our tyres as much as we want and be able to get some good battles with the guy at the front."
Despite starting from supposedly the dirtier side of the grid, Grosjean insists that he would not swap places with third-placed Sebastian Vettel just to have the chance of a better getaway.
"I was already third once in qualifying and now I'm second, and hopefully, one day, I can get pole position [as] the more ahead you are, the better it is," he reasoned, "We know there is dirt and dust on the [even-numbered] side but, if you look at Barcelona, where there's supposed to be a good side and a bad side, the drivers in second and fourth positions happened to be first and third at the first corner and the first and third finished second and fourth. Hopefully, I can do the same."
The Lotus team has repeatedly tipped as the next to find the top step of the podium in an unpredictable 2012 season but, despite former world champion Kimi Raikkonen partnering Grosjean at Enstone, it has yet to live up to its perceived potential. The Frenchman, however, remains optimistic that the former Renault squad can join the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull if everything comes together on race day.
"If I win the race tomorrow, then it would be fantastic for the guys in the team, at the factory, for everything we've been doing since the beginning of the year and what we've achieved," he admitted, playing down suggestions of added pressure to become the first Lotus driver to top the podium since Ayrton Senna, "I think the time has come since you're racing for winning. As we say, qualifying is a good exercise as you're looking for the perfect lap, and if you just manage your car to do whatever you want with it, it's quite a good feeling, [but] the idea is to win a race. If one of us told you that he arrives on a race weekend not thinking about a win, he wouldn't be saying the truth so, for sure, we will think about it.