14 October 2013
Japanese Grand Prix: Grosjean set to be confirmed by Lotus
After his stunning performance in Suzuka this weekend, it appears that confirmation that Romain Grosjean will stay at Lotus for 2014 is just a formality.
Romain Grosjean proved he could do something that few others could do in 2013 - beat the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber off the line and lead a Grand Prix in Japan on Sunday - and it's no surprise that the star of Suzuka is to be rewarded for his success with a third year at Lotus F1.
"I need to get the written permission of my board but then we'll see," Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said after the the end of the Japanese Grand Prix. "Romain already has a contract with us for next year. He just has options to be taken up, so we have to do it in a few days I think," although he later qualified that to ""a couple of weeks."
For Grosjean - who last year was branded a 'first lap nutcase' by Mark Webber after crashing into the Red Bull on the opening lap - it's a real fairytale comeback story of his early promise finally being fulfilled and recognised.
"From the past not the best memories here but today was just a very, very good race," the driver said. "Much better than last year for sure!"
Grosjean had a lot of criticism levied against him in 2012 for his driving style and for his starts in particular - including the Belgian Grand Prix that saw him spark a multi-car wreck and earn himself a one-race ban. But this weekend his start off the line was a thing of beauty as he tucked into the inside line into turn 1 and caught both Red Bulls napping as they focussed on squeezing out Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in the centre.
"Yeah, it was probably one of the best," said Grosjean of his start. "Then when you're leading it makes the thing easier on the first stint. We were very quick on the option. The car was using less the tyres and I could open the gap. Unfortunately, it was less good on prime than option today for some reason, rather than yesterday when it was the opposite, so the pace dropped a little bit."
Grosjean went on to lead for almost half the race - 26 of the 53 laps, more than anyone else. But in the end, he wasn't able to hold back Sebastian Vettel's resurgent form and the championship leader was able to pass him on lap 29, with Grosjean also losing out to Mark Webber in the final laps of the race so that he had to settle for third. Still very impressive, but not quite what he had been hoping for just an hour earlier while flying out in front.
"Seb was really too quick for us," Grosjean admitted. " I think it would have been nice with Mark until the end of the race but we caught some slower cars, lapped cars, and they really blocked me a lot. I lost the position against Mark. I don't know if I could have held him until the end but, yeah, it cost me, I think, quite a lot.
"Never mind, we were the only car to be able to follow them," he pointed out, "We did not even think about racing them before the race and the strategy says that our target was Lewis, so, so far it was a pretty good race and for sure being ahead in the first corner helps quite a lot but we did a very good job to come back from a disaster Friday to have a very good Saturday and Sunday."
Red Bull Racing
Japanese Grand Prix
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