Romain Grosjean has played down suggestions that his podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix will help him overcome problems with his self-confidence – because he insists that there aren't any!
The Frenchman had made a slow start to the 2013 campaign, with some fearing that finishes of tenth, sixth and ninth from the opening three rounds somehow represented a continuation of the cautious form that marked the end of his contentious 2012 season. Missing the cut at the end of Q2 in Bahrain, despite being armed with a new chassis, only seemed to underline the malaise, but Grosjean came good on raceday, parlaying eleventh on the grid into a repeat of the third place he took at Sakhir in 2012.
“We've got a difficult start to the season, [but] I think we've put in a lot of work and effort to understand what was exactly going on,” he commented, “It wasn't easy to find out but, basically, I think we came back where we should be.
“Qualifying was a bit disappointing, but we had a lot of new sets of tyres for [the race], which was good. After the first few laps, we had a lot of big debris coming into the radiator and the rear brakes, and we had to pit very early because the temperature was going up. I knew that the two first stints would be quite long on hard tyres and then we'd do short on mediums, but we had to pit and change the tyres [earlier than planned].
“The car was good - I think it was one of the races where I had the most overtaking manoeuvres and fights on track. The last ten laps were pretty good because I had a Force India in front of me. I knew I was much quicker, but [didn't know] how many laps the medium [would last] before they started to lose pace? I was trying to take care of them but, at the same time, pushing hard.”
Four-time world champion Alain Prost suggested during the weekend that Grosjean's poor start to the season was down to a lack of self-confidence, but the Lotus driver was quick to play down the significance of the comment.
“I think that the fact that we're able to come back from a very difficult situation proves that I think he was wrong,” Grosjean responded, “I haven't seen him this year. I have a deep respect for what he did, but I think it's easy to speak when you are not here.
“It was different matters. We got a bit lost last year, with our struggle mid-season – Hockenheim, Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps – and then we came back. There is so much technology with those cars, and it's true that Pirelli tyres are not easy to drive and every time we have a small problem somewhere it makes it worse, but when you manage to get it right, then it's okay. It was just something with the feeling of the car. When you're not confident with your car, it's not self-confidence, it confidence in your car, and there's nothing you can do.”
Despite his comments about the latest Pirellis, Lotus' E21 is one of the kindest on its tyres, and Grosjean hinted that he may have been closer to the top two had he not had his debris problem early on.
“It would have been possible if we hadn't had to stop on lap six or seven, due to the temperature problem and the McLaren front wing that completely blocked the radiators,” he confirmed, “We had to stop because we were having water issues and the rear brake drum was completely closed, so the brakes were not working any more. Kimi was in front of me, so it was better to stop rather than losing the brakes. Then tyre management was okay - I think it's getting better and I don't see any point where shouldn't be able to repeat the performance.”