Interview with Lotus' Romain Grosjean
3 June 2014 – Lotus pilot Romain Grosjean previews the 2014 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve...
Romain, do you have good memories of Montreal?
I have very good memories from 2012 when I went from seventh on the grid to my first second place in F1. It was a really great day and it was really a strong team result as we used a one-stop strategy to get on the podium after a disappointing qualifying session the day before. Last year wasn't so good and we struggled with the wet weather and conditions but the place itself? Montreal is a wonderful city to visit. There are obviously a lot of French speakers so it's like another home race for me, and the fans are so welcoming and knowledgeable. There are also some very good restaurants in Montreal which is always a bonus.
How much of a challenge is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit?
Montreal is in-between a normal circuit and a street circuit. The walls are very close in some places, while other parts are similar to a European circuit. It's definitely unique and we normally bring a different downforce package for that reason, which adds another unknown factor to the weekend. The circuit is not used for the rest of the year so the grip will change a lot - something we'll have to adapt to - and the weather can also be tricky. Hopefully it'll be nice and sunny because it's a race I really like – and it's my favourite circuit to race on the Xbox. The last chicane is a notable feature and overall it's a good track.
What is it about street or street-esque circuits that you like?
I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. Montreal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we've seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year and that will certainly be on your mind as you take to the track for the first time over the weekend.
How would you sum up Monaco given that the car wasn't reacting as you wanted, but you still matched your best result of the year?
The start of the Monaco Grand Prix was a nightmare because I was hit on the first lap and suffered a puncture. Then I was stuck in traffic and couldn't overtake. Of course when you have a predictable car with plenty of grip it is easy to attack, but we struggled to find a base set-up and it clearly wasn't good enough in the race. But anything is possible in Monaco, we didn't give up and managed to recover from 19th to 8th. We scored points and we know where to improve the car, which is not quick enough in low speed corners and certainly we're trying to get more power for Canada too!
And the high speed corners?
They are not a concern. The aerodynamics are stable and the power unit management is getting better so now we are more focussed on the suspension side. Last year we had a very good car in that aspect, so we'll compare the E22 with the E21 and possibly revert to some previous settings to make it better at low speed. I believe our downforce is pretty good so it's mechanical grip we're after. Even at Monaco we improved the car, even if it didn't look like it on the timesheets.
In previous seasons the car was good out of the box, while the E22 has required a lot of development. How does that change things in terms of your approach?
It's always easy to go quick when the car is good. You just have to concentrate on your driving. When the car is a bit more tricky you have to think about your driving and what the car is doing, because it can react unpredictably. Add to that all the different systems management we now do in the car, it becomes a real mental test! That's not ideal for Monaco, so it was a very demanding Grand Prix, but at other tracks with more margin for error you can push more. I'm happy we made it to eighth at Monaco and we go to Canada with more confidence.