Romain Grosjean may have scored points in each of the last two races in the 2014 F1 world championship, but he isn't confident of making it a hat-trick as the series heads to Montreal.
Speaking on the eve of practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, the Frenchman admitted that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was not expected to suit the team's E22, which has taken some painstaking development just to become a contender for the lower reaches of the top ten. Back-to-back eighth places in Spain and Monaco have got both Grosjean and Lotus into the standings, but the former Montreal podium finisher is reticent about predicting a repeat this weekend.
“You never know until you start but, on paper, it's going to be very difficult against the 'Mercedes four',” he commented, “You are always trying to get rid of some downforce here, but then it is tricky in the corners. On paper, that looks like a big advantage for Mercedes…”
Asked whether there had been any big changes ahead of round seven, Grosjean admitted that there had been a setback for the team in Monaco, and that the car's biggest failing would be a bigger burden on the 'point-and-squirt' Montreal layout.
“I know Renault has been working hard and we have been trying to improve the car on our side as what we saw in Monaco was that the suspension and mechanical grip was not as good as we thought,” he explained, “We have new wings for this level of downforce and, hopefully, they will work very well but the end of the story is that a lot of the time difference is between the hairpin and the chicane….
“I think it will be the [lack of] top speed [which hurts us more] because the more power you have the more wing you can put on the car and the easier it is for everything. At the end of the story, it is always a trade-off, but maybe it's a bit tricky [here].”
Admitting that the team was still not able to use 100 per cent of the new technology introduced for 2014, Grosjean also ruled out adopting an extreme set-up in the hope that it might propel the E22 to the front of the field.
“Last year we tried that and it didn't work at all,” he noted, “The car worked on Friday, and I think I was P3 or P5 in FP2, but then we saw our top speed wasn't good enough so we tried a new wing set-up that we didn't know and it was a bad choice. We know what we can do, we know which 'extreme' we decided to go for in terms of how much less downforce we can go for. If it's good, we can keep it and, if not, we can come back a little bit, but we learned from the lessons of the past.”
Despite his pessimism for Montreal, Grosjean remains upbeat when contemplating the team's fortunes for the return to Europe later this month.
“Here it is going to be tricky [to get into the points] but, on a normal track….,” he mused, “Silverstone should hopefully be good; Austria, I don't know the track but there is quite a lot of straight lines; Budapest... if we get more grip from the suspension...
“What we have seen in Barcelona was not a one-day shot. I think it was more relevant of the car's performance. Yes, there are still quite a lot of places where we can improve and, if we do so, we should be even more consistent.”
The former GP2 champion is hoping that time spent back at the Enstone factory rather than traversing the globe between 'flyaway' races may finally help Lotus pinpoint the E22's weak spots and work to correct them.
“The car came late, so you don't have time to put it on the seven-post rig, then you go overseas and the car was in Bahrain [for its first two tests] and then on to Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain,” he reflected, “Then it comes back for a week-and-a-half before Barcelona and now, after Monaco, we have a chance to put it on the rig... But already there are six races gone!”