Interview with GP2 Champion Romain Grosjean

Interview with GP2 Champion Romain Grosjean

28 August 2011 – Romain Grosjean claimed his maiden GP2 Series title at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday afternoon, finishing third during a rain-hit Feature Race to collect the points he needed to take the crown. The Frenchman savours the moment, looks back at his highly successful season and ponders what lies just around the corner...

Romain, congratulations. You are the 2011 GP2 Series Champion. How does that sound?

Finally! It’s just fantastic. We’ve had a really hard season with such a high level of drivers and teams. I think that professionally and personally, this has been a very important season. The team DAMS has been really open-minded to listen to me and my suggestions. They worked really hard. They work very hard I can tell you.

We made some mistakes. Sometime they made them, other times I made them. That’s normal in a season. But at the end of the day, we managed to get everything right in the last four races. It’s true that I have had a bit of luck, but in every championship, you need to get that as well to make the difference. Today I am very pleased. I can see that the team is very emotional and that’s important for a driver to feel that everyone is behind him. It has been a very special season...

How important is this title in your career?

I want to say that at the beginning of the season, my management did not tell me to win the series. I’m a bit older than some of the drivers and I have more experience so my personal goal was to grab the title. But I knew also that I wanted to push DAMS and help them to get back at the top.

What they were missing when we started working together is not missing anymore. And I think they are the strongest team of the Series this season. I am proud of what we have accomplished. I wanted this title very much because it was missing in my career. Now it’s in the pocket. It’s an amazing feeling.

When the season started, everyone saw you as the man to beat, especially after you won the GP2 Asia Series again. Plus, you have a bit more experience than most drivers. Was that extra pressure?

Honestly, I don’t like it when I’m an outsider. But if you watch the results from last season in GP2, Barwa Addax, ART and iSport were stronger than DAMS. But this year with the new car and the new Pirelli tyres, we worked very hard. I have to say that we were completely lost in Abu Dhabi when the GP2 Asia season opened at the beginning of the year. Everyone thought we were hiding our true potential when we were P22 in the last test session before the season started.

And then, we realised that we needed to just keep working and start again from the beginning and we took pole position. And then the car started to work again. We were strong contenders, but we were also a team that needed to prove that they were able to get back to the top as they were a few years ago.

2009 and 2010 were very tough years for you. What did it take to get to this point today?

I think my career has been smooth until 2009. Everything was perfect. I was always in the right team, at the right place and at the right time. I went to SG Formula and became Formula Renault 2.0 Champion. I went then to ART in Formula 3 and became Champion. Then I stayed with the team in GP2 Asia Series and again, I became Champion.

Then the first year of GP2 was really great. I was P4 at the end of the season which was a fantastic result. I went to Formula One then and unfortunately it was at the wrong time, in the wrong place. But it has been important in my career and has definitely helped me get stronger. I realised after that I had a life outside Formula 1.

It has truly helped me enjoy the life in the paddock as well. Everyone can see that I’m smiling more. It’s because I have less pressure. I still work very hard and seriously, but I put less pressure on my shoulders. That’s the way I’m working now. I like to be relaxed. I like to smile a lot before going in the car. I make jokes even on the grid and then I can still manage to focus when it counts.

Talking about this season, when did you feel that you could actually become Champion?

I think Imola was important. We went to a track that nobody knew. We knew that it would give a good indication of what to expect in the GP2 Series later this season. And we were very strong. We took pole and won the first race. And then we went to Turkey, took pole again and won again. From then on, we knew we had a good pace, a good set-up and that we could improve on every race track.

Sometimes we did struggle a little because we were missing some speed, but the set-up was still good everywhere. That’s what you have to feel to become champion. At the start of the season, there were some ups and downs: we made a few mistakes which happens in a season. But the last four races were very good and that helped us build a gap in the standings.

The summer was long as well because we were 25 points ahead and everyone kept on telling me that I was going to be champion in Spa. I kept on telling them to relax a bit. And of course, you saw what happened in qualifying yesterday... It was a tough way to start the weekend. But I got P3 today and it was enough to become Champion with DAMS.

Five wins this season so far. Was there one that meant more to you?

I think the one from Silverstone was quite important. Everybody said that I had made a big mistake and that I was crazy in Valencia. I made one, I completely agree. That’s it. I got a ten grid place penalty and I went to Silverstone. It was tough, but during that race I was really patient. I made some nice overtaking manoeuvres at the end of the race especially on Giedo (van der Garde) which was important for the title race and then on Dani (Clos).

It was a strong win. And I think from then on, we were capable to score in both races and I showed that the mistake I made in Valencia did not mean that the 2009 Romain Grosjean was back. It was just some mistake that drivers do sometimes.

Looking ahead, almost every single GP2 Series Champion has gone straight to Formula one. Thoughts?

There is no rule unfortunately! I want to go back to Formula 1, of course, but at the moment nothing has been decided. My management, Lotus Renault GP or the team DAMS have been intelligent because they knew that in 2009 after the third race of the season, I was only thinking about F1.

This year, I did not want to make the same mistake so I kept my focus on GP2 exclusively. I have been to the F1 paddock as little as possible to focus here. Now that we are champions, I will have a look at what is going on upstairs, but at the moment, my main concern is to find a good contract for 2012 and nothing else. At least we still have a few months to think about it. Hopefully I can get a good seat in good conditions.

Would you say that GP2 has prepared you well for the next step?

This season has been watched closely by the F1 paddock because of the new tyres and the new car. Drivers have to think more about what they are doing in the car. You need to manage everything very well. We’ve had some tough races. Some of them were dry/wet/dry and some were really crazy races. Having won this title in difficult conditions was important and it has been seen by the big boss...hopefully!

GP2 Series: You have been racing on all three generations of GP2 cars. In your opinion, what makes the third generation car so special?

The first generation car had less power and was easy to drive. You didn’t have to think about anything. You just had to push with every lap. The second generation car was a bit more difficult. The 2009 season started out good, but like I said, I was thinking of the next step prematurely. I was not focused.

I like the new generation car a lot. It is much more stable and I like as well the way the Pirelli tyres are working through the race. During the races, the drivers have to really work on their driving style and on the preparation with the team.

Talking about Monza, I’m sure you would like to win there as well...

That would be really nice. First, we have another race tomorrow. I really want to score more points for the team. We are second in the teams standings which is not that bad considering that there’s only one driver who has scored points so far this season.

We need to keep scoring points and it’s true that I would like to score a double-win this season. Since it’s not going to be achievable in Spa, there’s only Monza left! It would be nice to finish on a win, but first of all we will try to score points.


Interview provided by the official GP2 website

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Tuesday 22 July 2014

  2. Giovesi joins Caterham driver programme 11:58

    Giovesi joins Caterham driver programme

    Kevin Giovesi has become the second member of Caterham's new driver development programme. The 20-year-old Italian, who...

    F1
  3. Tost: Kvyat is doing a fantastic job 10:52

    Tost: Kvyat is doing a fantastic job

    Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has heaped praise on Daniil Kvyat for "doing a fantastic job" during the first half of his...

    F1
  4. Ecclestone: No doubts over Russian GP 10:16

    Ecclestone: No doubts over Russian GP

    Bernie Ecclestone says he has no doubts over the Russian Grand Prix following the MH17 tragedy. Malaysia Airlines Flight...

    F1
  5. Winners and Losers at the German Grand Prix 09:15

    Winners and Losers at the German Grand Prix

    Hockenheim played host to the 10th round of the season as Nico Rosberg claimed a comfortable victory, while Mercedes...

    F1
  6. Vettel out to keep up the momentum in Hungary 08:00

    Vettel out to keep up the momentum in Hungary

    Sebastian Vettel says he will work hard this coming weekend to "keep up the momentum" and get another strong result in...

    F1
  7. Pirelli expects usual two stops in Hungary 07:00

    Pirelli expects usual two stops in Hungary

    Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery believes teams and drivers will opt for the usual two stops in the Hungarian Grand...

    F1
  8. Hungaroring memories: Mansell secures title, 1992 05:00

    Hungaroring memories: Mansell secures title, 1992

    Relive the 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix, where Ayrton Senna won and Nigel Mansell finished second to secure the title.

    F1
  9. Monday 21 July 2014

  10. Formula E reveals Buenos Aires track layout 17:23

    Formula E reveals Buenos Aires track layout

    Formula E has revealed the track layout and location for the Buenos Aires ePrix, round four in the inaugural 2014/2015...

    Formula E
  11. Boullier: Useful clutch of points squandered 16:45

    Boullier: Useful clutch of points squandered

    Eric Boullier believes McLaren lost out on scoring a "useful clutch of points" in the German Grand Prix. Jenson Button...

    F1
  12. Video: Rosberg reflects on German GP win 16:00

    Video: Rosberg reflects on German GP win

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg reflects on his victory on home soil in the German Grand Prix.

    F1
  13. Horner wants clarification after brake change 15:13

    Horner wants clarification after brake change

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has asked the FIA to clarify why Lewis Hamilton was allowed to switch brake suppliers...

    F1
  14. Smedley: Both cars on podium aim now 14:34

    Smedley: Both cars on podium aim now

    Rob Smedley has said that Williams now wants a double podium finish in the wake of Valtteri Bottas' latest success in the...

    F1
  15. Hamilton: I can't focus more or work harder 13:55

    Hamilton: I can't focus more or work harder

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he cannot do any more to win the title this season and that he is already giving...

    F1
  16. Video: Montoya, Aleshin crash out in Toronto 13:30

    Video: Montoya, Aleshin crash out in Toronto

    Footage of Juan Pablo Montoya and Mikhail Aleshin crashing out in Race 2 in Toronto.

    Indy
  17. Wolff: German GP results 'feels' like 1-2 12:48

    Wolff: German GP results 'feels' like 1-2

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the team's double podium in the German Grand Prix 'feels' likes a one-two, given Lewis...

    F1
  18. Penalty point for Vergne after track limits breach 11:52

    Penalty point for Vergne after track limits breach

    Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne has been given a penalty point on his licence following the German Grand Prix. Vergne...

    F1
  19. Button: I overreacted to Hamilton clash 11:29

    Button: I overreacted to Hamilton clash

    McLaren driver Jenson Button has backtracked on comments he made after he clashed with Lewis Hamilton in the German Grand...

    F1
  20. Kvyat: I saw smoke and flames in the mirrors 11:05

    Kvyat: I saw smoke and flames in the mirrors

    Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat made a dramatic and fiery exit from the German Grand Prix last weekend. The incident...

    F1
  21. Vettel in 'fun' Hockenheim fight with Alonso 10:28

    Vettel in 'fun' Hockenheim fight with Alonso

    Sebastian Vettel says he enjoyed his scrap with Fernando Alonso during the German Grand Prix. It was a case of déjà-vu at...

    F1
  22. Alonso: Ferrari made small step forward 09:56

    Alonso: Ferrari made small step forward

    Fernando Alonso believes the Scuderia made a "small step forward" at the German Grand Prix. Alonso enjoyed battles with...

    F1
  23. Hungaroring memories: Inoue hit by medical car 05:00

    Hungaroring memories: Inoue hit by medical car

    Taki Inoue was dramatically hit by a medical car after retiring from the 1995 Hungarian Grand Prix.

    F1
  24. Sunday 20 July 2014

  25. Conway wins wet, chaotic Race 2 in Toronto 22:59

    Conway wins wet, chaotic Race 2 in Toronto

    Mike Conway has won by 3.5 seconds in a dramatic wet/dry second race in IndyCar's Toronto doubleheader. Pitting earlier...

    Indy
  26. Räikkönen blames damage for slump 17:15

    Räikkönen blames damage for slump

    Kimi Räikkönen has blamed car damage for his disappointing finish in Sunday's German Grand Prix. The Finn, on an opposing...

    F1
  27. Bourdais wins in Race 1 at Toronto, first since 2007 17:14

    Bourdais wins in Race 1 at Toronto, first since 2007

    Sebastien Bourdais has won his first open wheel race since 2007, claiming victory in the first race of the IndyCar Toronto...

    Indy
  28. Eriksson loses Hockenheim podium finish 16:58

    Eriksson loses Hockenheim podium finish

    Jimmy Eriksson's GP3 title bid has taken a hit after losing his podium in Sunday's race at Hockenheim. The Koiranen GP...

    GP3
  29. Button critical of Hamilton after clash 16:38

    Button critical of Hamilton after clash

    Jenson Button was left bemused by Lewis Hamilton's driving after the pair clashed during Sunday's German Grand Prix at...

    F1
  30. 16:37

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Hockenheim

    F1
  31. Ricciardo: Hockenheim was 'awesome fun' 16:36

    Ricciardo: Hockenheim was 'awesome fun'

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo hailed his German Grand Prix as 'awesome fun' after he recovered from an unfortunate...

    F1
  32. Force India duo struggle with front tyres 16:23

    Force India duo struggle with front tyres

    Force India duo Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez were left to lament heavy front tyre degradation during the German Grand P...

    F1
  33. Bottas: Engineers key in Hamilton battle 16:13

    Bottas: Engineers key in Hamilton battle

    Valtteri Bottas has paid tribute to his engineers for their assistance amid his late German Grand Prix battle with Lewis...

    F1
  34. Massa hits out at Magnussen after clash 16:07

    Massa hits out at Magnussen after clash

    Felipe Massa laid the blame fully at Kevin Magnussen's door after the duo collided on the opening lap of the German Grand...

    F1
  35. Hamilton left with mixed feelings after comeback 15:56

    Hamilton left with mixed feelings after comeback

    Lewis Hamilton was left with mixed feelings after his storming drive from 20th to third in the German Grand Prix. The...

    F1
  36. Nico Rosberg hails 'very special' victory 15:30

    Nico Rosberg hails 'very special' victory

    Nico Rosberg described as 'very special' his home victory in Sunday afternoon's German Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver,...

    F1
  37. 14:53

    In full: German Grand Prix race results

    F1
  38. Rosberg cruises to German Grand Prix win 14:40

    Rosberg cruises to German Grand Prix win

    Nico Rosberg took a comfortable victory during Sunday afternoon's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. The Mercedes driver...

    F1
  39. 12:38

    Follow the 2014 German Grand Prix live!

    F1
  40. 12:18

    Revised starting grid for the German Grand Prix

    F1
  41. Ericsson penalised for parc ferme violation 12:16

    Ericsson penalised for parc ferme violation

    Marcus Ericsson will start the German Grand Prix from the pit lane following a parc ferme indiscretion. Caterham failed...

    F1
  42. Hamilton avoids pit lane start after changes 11:03

    Hamilton avoids pit lane start after changes

    Mercedes has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will be able to start the German Grand Prix from the grid, with the FIA accepting...

    F1
  43. 10:31

    Latest GP2 photos: Sunday at Hockenheim

    GP2
more news