Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Eric Boullier believes Romain Grosjean will have learnt from bringing home his Lotus with a clean race around Korea.
Having endured a ban and plenty of criticism during the second half of the Formula One season for a number of first-lap incidents, the Frenchman was noticeably cautious around Yeongam on his way to a seven place finish.
Indeed, Grosjean looked visibly upset after a clash on the opening lap with Mark Webber at Suzuka in the previous round.
However, Lotus team principal Boullier holds hope for Grosjean heading into the final four races of the 2012 season.
“It was good to see Romain drive very sensibly despite all the pressure that is on his shoulders,” admitted Boullier. “I think he is learning from this experience and it will only make him a stronger driver.”
It’s been a tough second half of the season for Romain Grosjean – which is a real shame, as the first half saw him light up a number for races.
There is no doubting Grosjean has the pace and the driving craft, especially when it comes down to one-on-one racing, to succeed. But much like his reputation in lower formula, he just cannot seem to avoid contact in the opening trips of a race.
The pressure on Romain was huge in Korea, and that won’t go away for the rest of the season – that pressure will be either the beating or the making of the Frenchman.
He has to deal with it and improve if he is to retain his Formula One seat long-term. And if he does, he will unlock all kinds of potential that his other driving skills point to – which would be of major benefit to him and Lotus.
Kimi Räikkönen brought home more good points in fifth, to consolidate Lotus’ fourth place in the constructors’ standings.
“Kimi’s racecraft was impressive as usual – his battle with Lewis Hamilton showed real class and he was maybe unlucky not to have been closer to the leading pack after being held up for so long,” added Boullier.
“We knew we would not be fighting for the win here, and fifth for Kimi was the maximum we could have achieved. But we scored a good tally of points in the constructors’ championship and although third position is slowly edging away from us, with just four races left now we’re not ready to give up.”
McLaren are the ones Lotus would be trying to catch, 29 points up the road. However, for now Grosjean is just happy to make a positive contribution.
“For sure I was a bit nervous starting the race, but we did a lot of work this week trying to understand a few things and it’s certainly helped,” said Grosjean.
“It wasn’t the easiest start; there was contact behind me at turn three and I took evasive action but after that it was quite straight forward.
“I think I now know every detail of Force India’s car after spending so much time battling with Nico Hulkenberg – but I’m happy to make it to the chequered flag after a good, clean race.”