Romain Grosjean says he feels he has now shown himself to be one of the best drivers on the F1 grid as he prepares to lead Lotus into the 2014 campaign.
The Frenchman enjoyed a strong season on track in 2013 to pick six podium finishes, four of which came in the final six races of the season.
Having been one of the main challengers to Red Bull
during the second half of 2013, Grosjean will hope to continue his impressive form next year and he said he felt he had now shown what he is capable of after a difficult 2012.
"I think I have proven that I am part of the best drivers and that's how I consider myself," he was quoted by ESPN
. "It took some work and some painful time to get there, but I am now proud of what I am doing and I don't think I can do more.
"I was probably the one that was the most negative about myself [after 2012]. I hate not being able to do what I want to be able to do and it was hard. It wasn't nice to read those comments, but that was not what was worst, the worst was to not be happy with what you are doing.
“Right now I am glad because I'm very happy with what I am doing and it's always nice to be able to read those nice comments. But it's mainly with yourself that you need to be happy."
Grosjean will be partnered by Pastor Maldonado
next season after Kimi Raikkonen
elected to leave Enstone to return to Ferrari, and the 27-year-old said he felt ready to assume the role of team leader.
"The team knows me and I know them very well,” he said. “I feel at home at Enstone and I feel at home when I am with them, and we do enjoy our time together. We work hard and we are always able to say things face-to-face, which is important when I'm not driving well, and the times when I'm not happy with something I tell them.
“That relationship allows us to step up and I think they are ready for me to be the leader and I am ready to be the leader."