Interview with Renault's Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean will make his F1 return with Lotus Renault GP next season, having signed a deal to join Kimi Raikkonen at the squad. The 2011 GP2 Champion talks about his experiences in the sport so far, what it will be like to race alongside a former title winner again and how well he expects to fair throughout the campaign...
Romain Grosjean, Formula 1 race driver for 2012 - how does that sound?
A Formula 1 driver! Wow! It’s a dream come true. It’s difficult to find the right words to describe what I feel. It’s quite simply fantastic and I can’t wait to be at the start of the Australian Grand Prix on 18th March next year!
When you heard you were to drive FP1 in Abu Dhabi and Brazil, you described it as feeling like a child at Christmas - this must be a whole new level of excitement?
When I got back into the car two years afterwards, I compared that sensation to the way a child feels on Christmas Day. Now that I’ve got the seat for next year I still have difficulty expressing everything I feel. It’s a bit like a flame that been lit inside me that’s growing in intensity. I know it’s going to make me feel happy every day and I’m fully aware of the chance I’ve been given to get back into Formula 1 - it’s extraordinary!
How much of an influence do you think your GP2 Series victory had, and how much influence did your FP1 drives have in helping stake your place in next year’s car?
I think that my season in GP2 helped me get the seat as a nominated driver, because what people expected from me was to show that I’d grown up and matured – that at that level I was already capable of being a team leader.
The two free practice sessions in Abu Dhabi and Brazil were also a kind of real live assessment to see if I’d improved, if I was able to cope better with pressure and if I was still as quick. All these factors added to my two GP2 titles with DAMS were certainly major influential factors that helped me get the drive with LRGP in 2012.
You’ve always liked the technical side of F1 and motor racing - how useful will this skill be?
With the reduction of the number of test sessions in F1, the driver’s technical know-how assumes even greater importance. Something I like very much is working with the engineers, trying to understand how to improve the car and moving in the right direction: all this interests me very much. I was able to learn and deepen my knowledge in the various branches of the sport in which I raced as well as in the Pirelli tests.
I hope, and I’m convinced, that the team and me will manage to do a great job, and that we’ll find the right paths to explore to achieve a very good level for the first race in the championship.
Alongside you next year will be none other than former world champion Kimi Raikkonen - you must be getting used to driving alongside champions…
I’m beginning to get used to having a world champion as team-mate! After Fernando Alonso, now it’s Kimi Raikkonen. But it’s a real stroke of luck as you learn a lot from these people. And as we’ve got the same car matching their level is proof of the quality of the driver.
What can you learn from Kimi, and what impact will he being your team mate have on your driving?
Kimi is a great driver, he’s got nothing to prove anymore and I’m delighted to have the opportunity of working with him. I believe that I too can bring something to the team with my understanding of the Pirelli tires. He knows the ones in rallying but not those in F1. I think we’ll make a great pair and that speed will be one of the major pluses of the team.
Finally, what are your ambitions and expectations for next year?
My greatest expectations and ambitions for next year are to enjoy my season. It shouldn’t be forgotten that we’re living a dream, and just how extraordinary it is to be an F1 driver. That’s the main idea plus how much I’ll enjoy every moment I’m in the car throughout the season. Obviously, we’re there to score results. My aim will be to always get out of the car with a big smile on my face!