Romain Grosjean has admitted that retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix was particularly frustrating as it halted a run of points finishes that he felt underlined the progress being made at Lotus.
The Frenchman had ended a barren early season run with back-to-back eighth place finishes in Spain and Monaco and, whilst not being as successful as the team's 2013 form suggested it should be, was looking forward to building on that with another solid performance in Canada, even if the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve did not suit the quirky E22. As it turned out, after qualifying only 14th on a layout that emphasised slow corner and fast straight performance, Grosjean joined team-mate Pastor Maldonado on the sidelines after suffering a rear wing failure.
“You never want to stop racing, so it wasn't the best,” he told the Lotus team website, “That said, it was a pretty exciting end to the race so it was good to watch it as it happened!
“Our target is to be part of the battle of fighting for points positions, so we need to ensure we don't have any more problems with the car. We're making definite progress with pace, how the car feels and generally with reliability too, so it was frustrating that there was an issue with the rear wing. It's another lesson learnt and we will come back stronger for Austria and beyond.”
Grosjean is among the majority of drivers not to have raced at the Red Bull Ring before F1's return to Austria this weekend, and he is looking forward to tackling one of the more beautiful venues on the schedule.
“Competing in the grand prix will be my first experience there, which is a pretty cool way to get to know a track!” he enthused, “It looks like quite a fun lap with some high speed sections and not too much low speed stuff – which hasn't suited our car so far this year.
“The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it's an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.”
Of course, with modern technology at his disposal, Grosjean already has an idea of what to expect in Spielberg, but insists that nothing can beat actually being there.
“There's a lot you can do with simulators, watching on board laps from other people and going through data and predictions with your engineers - as well as driving the track on the Xbox!” he explained, “That said, nothing beats getting in the car and actually driving it for real. I'll be pretty excited at the start of FP1 as that's when I'll really know what sort of track it is.
“You very quickly know what you want from the car and how to put together all the corners which make a circuit that's new to you. The objective for learning a track and setting up the car is to go as fast as possible so, for both, it's all the same goal.”
Grosjean's build-up to Austria has also included the launch of a competition for fans to produce a one-off helmet design for the Italian Grand Prix.
“The rule is simple,” he wrote on his personal Facebook
page, “Until July 13th, you can send me your sketches at firstname.lastname@example.org and, in the end, I'll chose the design I like the most.”
Helmet templates for the competition can be found here