Romain Grosjean has been backed to recover from a difficult start to his 2013 campaign, having been overshadowed by Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen through the opening three races of the F1 season.
While Raikkonen has two podium finishes, including a win in Australia, and sits second in the championship standings, Grosjean has just a single top six finish and finds himself down in ninth place with just eleven points.
While that would suggest that the pressure is firmly on the Frenchman to impress in the upcoming races, team boss Eric Boullier was quick to throw his support the former GP2 champion – insisting that he was doing a good job for the team against 'one of the most gifted drivers around'.
“Romain faces the very tough challenge of driving the same car as one of the most gifted driver around in Kimi; a driver with tremendous experience who returned to the sport last year and was very good straight away,” he said. “If he was very good from the start of last season, Kimi's been excellent from the start of 2013. He gives everything you want from a driver at every moment on track.
“This will be frustrating for Romain at times as it's very, very difficult to beat the Kimi who arrives at the track this season, but it's also a tremendous opportunity as he's learning from the very best. If he can learn these lessons whilst bringing home points for the team, then he's doing the job we want from him.”
Technical director James Allison also threw his support behind Grosjean, arguing that any issues he has suffered thus far weren't down to the job he was doing behind the wheel.
“The truth is that it's certainly not Romain causing the problem,” he said. “Romain is fast, smooth and good at looking after tyres, however we have not yet managed to give him a consistent car that lets him bring his talent to bear. It's not him; it's that we haven't got it quite right for him yet and what seems to be clear from Kimi's weekends is that the car is a tricky little beast to get just right. We have managed that with Kimi in two of the three races and we need to make sure we've giving Romain all the opportunity to shine as well.”
Grosjean himself admitted that getting at one with the car was one of his main targets in Bahrain this weekend, with his target being to try and break onto the podium for the first time in 2013.
“I would be lying if I said the car is exactly where I want it and we are having quite an adventure to get the setup and feeling from the car how we want it,” he said. “This is very frustrating for a driver, as you want your car to be obedient – to do what you want it to do – and to do it in a consistent manner. Certainly, we're not the only team who are having a difficult time early in the season, but it's something we really want to get on top of as quickly as possible. I'm spending a lot of time with my engineers and we're all working hard to make improvements.
“The priority is to find that connection with the car. I want to be right up there fighting for podiums and showing the speed I showed last year. Hopefully we'll get there soon, and I think Bahrain would be the ideal place to really start getting some good points or even a return to the podium. We've been quick there before, so there's no reason why we can't do it again.”