Lotus F1 Team Race Driver, Car No. 10
“It’s a dream come true to get this drive”
Romain Grosjean makes a return to Formula 1 after contesting seven races in 2009. He talks about the challenge of his first full season in the sport he loves.
How does it feel to have a full-time F1 drive?
It’s just starting to sink in. It’s a dream come true to get this drive. A fantastic emotion and a fantastic challenge as well. I think the team has a really good line-up for this year, with Kimi and myself. Hopefully we can do something special. I think I’ll only truly realise it when we get to Melbourne and I see my name on the official entry list. For now I’m really happy to be at the factory as much as I can, to get involved with the team and get ready for testing.
How do you view this season – you had a part season two years ago – so is this a part-rookie year?
It’s difficult to say how I should view this season. For sure I did seven Grands Prix alongside Fernando [Alonso] and the experience I gained from that was helpful – and is still helpful today. On the other hand there are still some circuits that I don’t know. But I don’t think we can say I’m a rookie, just because of the experience I have. Let’s say that I am a young driver who still has plenty of things to learn in Formula One, but we are all expecting a good season.
How and why is the 2012 specification Romain Grosjean different compared to the 2009 version?
Compared with 2009 I am two years older! No big difference, just an improvement in terms of many small things, including maturity. The 2009 experience was very helpful for me to understand things and grow up from that point. So it was difficult, but very good as well. The 2012 Romain Grosjean sees life a little bit different. My aim is to enjoy my number one passion, Formula One.
How did you get the drive for 2012?
The process for getting the 2012 drive really began with GP2, where my goal was to bring DAMS back to the top and show that I can be a team leader. For sure winning the title was something that we all wanted, but championships can depend on many things. Then there were the two Friday morning sessions in Formula One, which were a real test in terms of seeing if I had the speed, feedback and everything the team was looking for. I knew it was very important and it went well, but then you just have to wait. That was the most difficult part, but I knew I’d done everything – the best I could do – so I had no regrets. I was waiting and just trying to read the faces of the people in the team to imagine what the decision would be! That’s always part of this job. You get used to it year after year.
How have your pre-season preparations gone?
My winter preparations have not been too bad. I’ve just been doing some training until I can drive the car. Fortunately it’s not long until the first test on February 7. I’m trying to come to the factory as much as I can, to spend some time and discuss things with the engineers – grab a beer, or whatever! It’s a long season – 20 Grands Prix plus testing – to spend with the same people and it’s important that you get along well with everyone. I’m very happy to be with them and part of this team. I think I’ve changed since 2009 and the team sees that. The relationship is much stronger and much better today.
What do you expect will be your biggest challenge in 2012?
Formula One is a big, big challenge, but I think the biggest challenge personally will be to get 100 per cent out of myself and the car, every time. No mistakes. That is the life of a Formula One driver. You need to get 100 per cent out of the car, focus, concentrate and improve lap after lap. So I hope we can have a good car from the beginning of the season, some good ambitions going into the first race and just develop all season long.
What do you think of the new car?
From what I’ve seen of the new car so far, I can say that the colours are the same! We will see when get on the track. Hopefully it will be a good car and we can give it a nice nickname after the first test. Then we will try to improve it lap after lap and session after session.
It’s a new tyre supplier since you last race in Formula 1 – do you expect that to make a difference?
I think Pirelli had a really, really good first year in Formula One. There have been some changes for 2012, and I think tyres will be key again. We need to get them working when we need, and save them when we need. Things have changed a lot since the Bridgestone era. It’s part of the show today, to manage your tyres, and we have seen some big, big differences in tyre wear on some tracks which have made Formula One more attractive than a few years ago.
How is your knowledge of the circuits?
I don’t know Albert Park, I don’t know Shanghai, I don’t know Canada, America nobody knows, India I don’t know and Korea I don’t know. So in the early stages of the season I know all the tracks except Albert Park and Shanghai. I know Sepang and Bahrain. We will see what happens.
Romain Grosjean makes a race return to Formula 1 after previously contesting the final seven Grands Prix of 2009.Prior to that Romain had secured the 2007 Formula Three Euroseries championship and won the inaugural GP2 Asia Series championship in 2008. After his 2009 F1 foray, Romain contested the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship in 2010, winning the opening race of the season. He competed in his first Le Mans 24 Hours that year too. It wasn’t long before he returned to single seaters, with partial campaigns in the Auto GP and GP2 seasons, and he ended with the GP2 Asia Series and GP2 Series championship titles secured.
Date of birth 17 April 1986
Place of birth Geneva, Switzerland
2000 – 2003: Karting and Formula Renault
Romain raced Karts from junior categories through to ICA karts, as well as completing Formula A races in 2002. He combined Formula ICA in 2003 with the start of his car racing career. Ten wins from ten races saw Romain crowned Swiss Formula Renault champion.
2004 – 2005: Formula Renault 2.0
Romain competed partial seasons in both the French and European Formula Renault championships, finishing as second best rookie in the 2004 French championship, including 1 win and 3 podiums. He won the title with 10 wins the following year.
2006 – 2007: F3 Euroseries
Romain finished 13th in the F3 Euroseries, which included two wins during the British F3 Championship rounds. For 2007, he took the title in impressive style in a closely-fought series, with a total of 6 wins, 6 podiums and 4 pole positions.
2008: GP2 Series and ING Renault F1 Team test driver
In 2008, Romain combined his responsibilities as test driver for the ING Renault F1 Team with campaigns in the GP2 Asia Series and GP2 Series. He won the Asia series, taking four wins along the way. Romain was also a frontrunner in the main Series, winning two races.
2009: GP2 Series and ING Renault F1 Team test and race driver
2009 was to prove to be a year of opportunity for Romain. He started the year as test driver for the ING Renault F1 Team as well as contesting the GP2 Series. By the European Grand Prix he was a full-time race driver for the team, starting seven Grands Prix as team-mate to Fernando Alonso.
2010 – 2011: Regroup and refocus
He contested the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship, winning the first Championship Race. He also returned to single seaters scoring a first and second at his first event in the Auto GP series, and within three further races the title was his. In July he returned to the GP2 Series, which proved to be a precursor to a full-time return the following year. Late in the year, Romain became Pirelli’s test driver.
2011 proved to be highly successful, with the GP2 Asia Series and the GP2 Series titles won, and a return to an F1 car with Friday runs at Abu Dhabi and Brazil for Lotus Renault GP.