22 May 2015
F1 Monaco Grand Prix: Grosjean frustrated by FP1 absence
Although he will get 100 per cent of the available track time in Monaco this weekend, Romain Grosjean admits it is hard to hand his Lotus over to Jolyon Palmer on Friday mornings elsewhere.
Lotus F1's Romain Grosjean has admitted that his race weekends are not being helped by having to watch development driver Jolyon Palmer take over his car in the opening practice session.
The Frenchman has racked up all of the Lotus team's points so far this season, but believes that his potential is being harmed by having to vacate the cockpit in favour of reigning GP2 Series champion Palmer after the cash-hungry Enstone outfit hired the Briton to a test and development contract. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who brings primary sponsor PDVSA to Lotus, is not being affected by Palmer's presence and continues to run both 90-minute Friday sessions.
Although he got the nod for the whole of day one in Monaco ahead of this weekend's grand prix, Grosjean conceded that stepping back in China, Bahrain and Spain had not helped his own progress through the weekend.
“It does affect you quite a lot in terms of preparation for the weekend,” Grosjean confirmed, “FP1 is normally when you test new aero parts and you can do a back-to-back [evaluation]. You know that you do three runs of five or six timed laps and you assess what's the best part for the weekend. You get a first idea of the car and then you can do a set-up change for FP2, prepare your diff map, your brake map and then go into FP2.
“When you only start in FP2, you've got five timed laps on prime, three timed laps on option and then you go into your long runs, so it's much harder to chase the right set-up. You can make some changes overnight but, again, the Saturday morning [session] is not [on] the same fuel load and under the same track conditions.
“So, yeah, it does affect you, and I believe that's why not everyone is doing it. The more time you spend in the car, the better it is, especially when you have very little testing in a year. As far as I'm aware, at the minute, I will have to leave Jolyon [to do] ten FP1 and this is as it is.”
After a frustrating start to the season, Grosjean has scored in each of the last three races and arrived in Monaco confident of adding to his 16-point tally.
“It's one of the tracks where you don't know what's going to happen, how the car is going to work,” he explained, “As everyone says, qualifying is the key around here and sometimes there is a surprise. I went from P19 to P8 last year - after a first-lap puncture!
“You always have to do your best around the track and avoid any contact with the wall. I've been winning here, I've been fast and sometimes too fast - especially in 2013, when I had the confidence back with me and I was pushing hard. I think I crashed three times in free practice, but it's all about confidence and finding the limit with the car.”
Asked whether he could expect to move up the order this weekend, Grosjean admitted that, with Red Bull already in its reach, Lotus could realistically set its sights on Williams.
“I think we are fighting Red Bull at the minute,” he noted, “We've been chasing them in Bahrain, and we were probably as quick as them, if not quicker, in Barcelona, so it's pretty nice. The next target will be to try to close the gap with Williams, but we need to find some performance in the car to do so. I think we've got a lot of ideas in the pipeline and a lot of good people at the factory. It's just a question of bringing the parts to the track.”
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