• Romain Grosjean exclusive interview

Time to prove a point, again

Chris Medland at the Circuit de Catalunya February 22, 2013

Romain Grosjean speaks to ESPN after Thursday's running to reflect on a tough winter and reveal his hopes for 2013

Romain Grosjean hopes to start with a clean slate among his fellow drivers in 2013 © Sutton Images
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Looking back to last season and the pre-season troubles, does the way this pre-season has gone so far give you encouragement for a better start to 2013?

Hopefully, that's our goal. If you start a new season not thinking that you'll try to do better than you did last year that's not good! Everybody is very motivated, we know we have a good car to start with and we know that we can have some good results. We do our best, not thinking too much about the others but just trying to focus on what we can improve ourselves and I think that's the way you want to work during pre-season testing.

How are you feeling after getting a race simulation in fairly early in the pre-season programme?

Tired! That was the programme basically; we needed to do some mileage with the car because we hadn't yet. So that was a bit of a concern but clearly we did it and had no issues on the car so that's a good point. It hasn't been the easiest race sim I've ever done; the tyres are degrading a lot. You really have to try to do the best you can and drive 100% of them but not 101%, if not, it's over. It doesn't make it easy but it was good.

At about the same time Mark Webber was doing a race simulation - starting a bit later than you - will the team look at Red Bull did and compare the times?

Everybody does look at what everybody is doing. You can do whatever you want in testing but you have a look at what the others are doing. I think mainly now we are looking at what we can do to improve this tyre degradation, improve our car and make it better.

There was some good comparisons in the middle of your race stints when you were slightly quicker than the Red Bull; is that something you can reasonably target, that come the start of the season you can match it for pace?

Hopefully! We had a very good middle stint. I think we have all been learning a lot today and how the tyres behave and what to do and what not to do on them and try to get the best of it. So yeah, this race if you compare it to Red Bull and Webber we looked not too bad.

Looking ahead to this year, after the problems you had last season are you hoping the other drivers will give you a clean slate to start with this year?

It will happen if I do my job, I do good races, no incidents and after four or five races I score good results they'll see that I'm OK. I think they know it, they know well that I've been winning championships so I think last year has been a little bit psychological. I made some mistakes, sometimes I was a bit unlucky and it turned out that it was a big story. It was lucky that nobody was hurt in the crash in Spa but I wasn't alone on that start. Anyway, I've been working a lot trying to change the risk management and see things a bit differently.

Grosjean on waiting to be confirmed for 2013: "It's not the easiest nights I've had!" © Sutton Images
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Did you fear for your future over the winter when you were waiting for the team to confirm the second seat?

Yeah, of course. It's not the easiest nights I've had! It was long but I had a lot of discussions with Gerard Lopez and the team and that was good. That was trying to help us understand how to move forward, and when I finally got the phone call that was good.

Do you feel like a number two driver here though? You started last season on more of an equal footing, but with the way the season went do you feel like you're playing number two to Kimi at the moment?

In terms of communication, yes it is. I mean, Kimi had a very good season last year, he's been world champion once; it's normal that the team is surfing on his name. Then we played fair last year with two cars the same and once Kimi was ahead in the championship and trying to go for good results it's normal that he got the best of everything we could. But this year we start again sportingly in the same place and I'm sure that if I'm ahead mid-championship it will be different.

Is that something you feel that you'll be allowed to go for yourself this season; the championship?

Yes. There is no reason why not. It would be stupid for the team; well not stupid but … let's say to close mind and only go with one driver. You never know, the other one has been showing good pace last year so if I can add the consistency there's no reason why I can't get points.

Kimi won in Abu Dhabi last year and the car is so far looking encouraging; is race wins something that you're targeting?

No, I'm not thinking race wins. I'm thinking about doing my best every time and being proud of what I do in the car, being happy with myself, and if I do right from FP1 to the chequered flag of the race with everything right then if one day we have the best car there's no reason we don't win. But if you think only about the win it's wrong.

So what would make a successful season for you?

It would be the car, the tyre understanding, the driving and the mental side. I'll be happy if I score as many points as I could have in the ideal, minus 5% or something like that. If you look back on the season and can say 'I only made one mistake in a race' or something like that then it's a good season. If you score points every time that you could and take advantage of the situation you could; like Fernando. Fernando last year, when it was raining the Ferrari was unbelievably quick and he was getting the advantage of it. Sometimes when the others crashed or had problems he'd score points and he did the best he could.

Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1

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Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1 Chris Medland, who in his youth even found the Pacific GPs entertaining, talked his way in to work at the British Grand Prix and was somehow retained for three years. He also worked on the BBC's F1 output prior to becoming assistant editor ahead of the 2011 season