Fresh from third place in the Belgian Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean has set out a similar target for this weekend's race at Monza
The Frenchman made his return to the top three after nearly two years' absence – since the USGP in 2013 – as Lotus found the sweet spot with its E23 and was rewarded with Sebastian Vettel's penultimate lap tyre failure, which promoted a hard-charging Grosjean to third place. Despite the rarity of his achievement, however, the former GP2 Series champion sees no reason why he cannot repeat the feat on the flat-out Monza circuit.
“I still have a massive smile on my face,” he admitted as preparations for Italy got underway, “We have a great car in the E23 and it worked so well around Spa-Francorchamps - everything came together so well. I probably drove the best race of my career, but it was thanks to the hard work of everyone at Enstone that I was able to perform at the top of my ability on that day. It felt almost like a race win.
“On paper, Monza should suit our car better than Spa so in theory a podium could be possible again! Of course, we don't know how our performance relative to our rivals will stack up until we get there, but you need your car to be as slippery as possible and quick in a straight line and, in that regard, we've looked pretty strong so far in 2015.
“Of course, we have to manage the tyre degradation and also, for us, it will be tricky in the big corners like the Lesmos and the Ascari chicane because the less downforce you have then the more difficult it is to get good grip in the turns. It is a tough compromise, but one I am sure that the team will get the best solution possible.”
A repeat scenario at Monza would, of course, not go down well with the home support, as the tifosi
can be counted on to will Vettel – or team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – to victory. Grosjean, however, says he would have no compunction in taking the fight to Ferrari, confident that he could have beaten Vettel without the German's tyre problem last time out.
“I was closing in on him pretty quickly and I'd have done everything I could to get past him,” the Frenchman noted, “He's a pretty tough competitor, but I was very
determined at that point. It's only a shame that he did have his tyre issue on track as I was really looking forward to fighting him for that position. I'm convinced I would have taken the final podium spot.”
The historic Autodromo Nazionale would provide a fitting backdrop to a repeat battle, with Grosjean no stranger to the hallowed tarmac.
“Italy is a magic place and, like a lot of drivers, I did a lot of racing there, even since my karting days, so I feel like I know the country very well,” he explained, “One of my first ever races in cars was at Monza back in 2003, when I was driving in a category called Formula Lista. I won and then went on to win every race of my rookie season in that formula. I have had some other big results at Monza too throughout my career, so it holds lots of good memories.
“I don't know anyone who does not enjoy being in Italy and I like Monza a lot because it is so distinctive. It's a great track that has a lot of racing history and, of course, the Ferrari fans are a big part of it. It is really nice competing at such a legendary venue, and it is nice for us to compete at a place where all our heroes raced. It makes for a really special ambience.”