Romain Grosjean produced a superbly controlled drive to take second place in the United States Grand Prix and equal his best-ever result in F1.
The Frenchman, who finished second in last season's Canadian Grand Prix, clearly enjoys racing 'across the Atlantic' as he made immediate ground from third on the grid to leapfrog Mark Webber and gain a place at the first corner. Retaining his position at the restart following a safety car interruption, Grosjean was able to run comfortably between the two Red Bull drivers until the first round of pit-stops.
Managing his pace and tyre degradation perfectly, he held off a strong charge from Webber immediately following the switch from option to prime tyres, and did so again in the latter stages of the race as the Australian appeared to get a second wind. The former GP2 Series champion eventually crossed the line a couple of seconds clear of his adversary, and 'only' six behind racewinner Sebastian Vettel to clinch a fourth podium from the last five races, and his sixth overall in 2013.
“That was a really tough race,” he admitted afterwards, “I had to have probably one of my best ever drives to keep Mark behind and it's a great feeling to have tamed at least one of the Bulls in Texas, as they clearly had the fastest package today.
“We knew a good start would be the key, so making up one place in the first corner was really important. The car was just fantastic from there onwards, but I think this place must bring me luck. This time last year, I found out my wife was pregnant and now I've equalled my best finish in F1. I can't wait to come back again and see what happens next year!”
Grosjean's 18-point haul from Austin means that he is the second highest points scorer since the F1 circus left Europe and started its end of season 'flyaways' at the Singapore Grand Prix. Only world champion Sebastian Vettel, who remains unbeaten since the end of July, has added more points to his tally in the same period..
The Lotus team, despite the absence of Kimi Raikkonen, remains fourth in the constructors' championship, but still has third overall in its sights as it now sits just 18 points behind Ferrari heading into the final round in Brazil.
"The whole team - here and back at Enstone - are doing an amazing job," Grosjean commented, “Every day, I see them working hard together to keep us at the front and, when you look at the gap to the next nearest challenger, it's clear that we're the second best team after Red Bull right now.”
Team boss Eric Boullier had similar praise for his new team leader.
“It's been another positive weekend for the team, and we scored more points than our championship rivals through a perfect drive from Romain,” he said, “The only way we could fight the Red Bulls was if Romain made a great start and that's exactly what he delivered. It really was his best grand prix ever and another excellent performance to add to his recent run of great form.”
“[It was] an absolutely faultless race of 100 per cent perfection lap after lap,” trackside operations director Alan Permane added, “He was under enormous pressure from Mark Webber in what was clearly a faster car, and he did exactly what was asked of him at every turn of the race.”