Q&A with Romain Grosjean
Grosjean sodden but satisfied after productive end to Barcelona test
With the water now wrung from his overalls, we caught up with our rather drenched Frenchman for a quick warm-up coffee and a good chat about the week’s events here at the Circuit de Catalunya.
After a tricky opening two days for the team, it must be satisfying to have racked up the laps during your time in the car this week?
I’ve been very lucky in that every time I’ve jumped in the car things have gone well, but the main thing is that the team has managed to get some good mileage on the board which is what we need at this point in the season. We completed a full race simulation and a bit more on top of that during my first day on track without any issues which was a big positive. Also, when you compare our performance during that long run with the other teams the pace looks competitive, so there are plenty of encouraging signs so far.
What do you make of the 2013 tyres? They seem to be throwing a few surprises into the mix already…
The main thing we’ve noticed is that the tyres suffer from heavy degradation with graining on both the fronts and rears, whereas last season it was mainly just the rears and not to the same level. In the first stint of our race simulation I spoke to the engineers on the radio after just a few laps to tell them that the tyres were pretty much gone, but of course there were 66 laps to complete so you just have to adapt your driving style and try to get the best out of them.
They’re not easy to manage for sure, but the conditions here didn’t help; the temperatures and track conditions are not really representative of what we can expect during the season and that makes a big difference to the way the tyres behave. They’re quite different to what we had last year and I think everyone will have to adapt a little to make them last. We’ve still got a bit of work to do before we fully understand the tyres, but with a good number of laps in our pocket we at least now have a better idea of what we need to do to make them work for us.
This time last year you had completed just a handful of laps before being forced to pack up and head home; do you feel the team is better prepared this time around?
I don’t think it affected us too much last year missing the second test; we went to Melbourne and put the car in P3 on the grid so it can’t have been that bad! Of course, the more mileage you can put on the car in pre-season the better and we’ve learned a lot this week; things that are working well, things we need to improve, how the tyres behave and so on. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made so far and there is still one more week to get things feeling even better….
Friday was a bit of a washout… how well did the E21 take to the wet conditions from inside the cockpit?
I spent a lot of time in the car today, but this time it was in the garage and not out on track! It was certainly cold and slippery out on the circuit and the conditions were worse than we would expect during the season. This at least meant it was a good test of the performance of the wet and intermediate tyres. I’m happy that we had no issues and the balance of the car was good in these conditions. I’m really looking forward to getting more laps in the car next week and seeing the latest upgrade package as I’m feeling very positive with everything I’ve seen so far.