23 August 2015
F1 Belgian Grand Prix: Grosjean 'can’t believe we’re on the podium!'
Romain Grosjean revels in 'one of the best races' of his F1 career as he takes Lotus back to the podium after a 31-race absence.
Romain Grosjean was overcome with emotion as he crossed the finishing line at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix, admitting that he could not believe he had taken Lotus back into the top three.
The Frenchman has been held back by the team's troubles for much of the season, achieving a best of seventh place through the first ten rounds. However, returning after the summer break, he propelled himself to fourth on the grid – a feat already undone by a gearbox penalty after practice – before coming through the field to benefit from Sebastian Vettel's tyre failure in the closing stages.
“It has been an incredible weekend for us – a great qualifying for us yesterday and a good race,” Grosjean reflected, “I still can't believe we are on the podium!”
In fairness to the oft-maligned former GP2 Series champion, he was closing in on Vettel – who was attempting to make it on a one-stop strategy – as the laps counted down, and may have been able to make a move for third place regardless of the German's blow-out at Raidillion, something he attributed to a well-timed pit-stop under the virtual safety car.
“I cannot explain the gain of speed [this weekend] but, [when] 'safety car' came up on the steering wheel, we pitted as planned,” he noted, “I lost a position to Seb as Ferrari was running a one-stop strategy, which was quite aggressive and we didn't think we were able to do it, [but] I was really closing the gap and it was unfortunate that he had that puncture.
“It was scary moment being just behind him, but I think we got everything we could today. Starting P4 on the grid, I am sure we would have had a much easier race, but it was good fun overtaking into turn five, going as hard as I could on the brakes. It was probably one of my best races ever.”
Grosjean cannot go to Spa without being reminded of the first corner shunt he triggered in the 2012 race, but he insists that the incident – and the subsequent one-race ban he incurred – made him a stronger person.
“I think it's no secret that, since that day, I've been working with a psychologist,” he confirmed, “That work has not always been nice and easy, but it helps you to understand things and to be able to pull out some performance – as we did today.
“Every time you start a race, the idea is to try and win it. You know what you have in your hands and you know that, sometimes, it is not possible, but as long as you do everything at 100 per cent of your performance, you can fly home in the evening being proud of what you did and that's what I want to achieve.”
Asked whether Lotus' performance can carry over to Monza in two weeks – provided it emerges from the 'bailiff' situation that surrounded it at Spa – Grosjean admitted that he was hopeful, but preferred to remain in the present.
“I think Monza is s a bit different as there are special aero packages,” he explained, “It's one race out of 19 where it is difficult to know what to expect. Hopefully it will be working as well as it is today but, right now, I am just thinking about having a good drink tonight!”
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