Romain Grosjean comes into the Austrian Grand Prix on the back of a retirement in Canada, and although the performance at Montreal was not what the team hoped, he feels his Lotus F1 team are heading in the right direction.
“I am positive,” said Grosjean. “Even though the end result in Canada might not show it, we’ve actually made good progress with the car and it’s starting to feel like a real racer in how it handles and how all the systems feel. This is very important to me as it helps you get the most out of the car through every corner to make the most of every lap.
“Certainly at the start of the season this new generation of car was not the easiest or the most pleasurable thing to drive, but I’m being won round! The feel of the car is an important aspect of the improvements being made so it’s another piece in the jigsaw.”
The Frenchman will be racing around the Spielberg circuit for the first time in his career, and he hopes the lack of slow-speed sections will help the Lotus as its better suited to the higher speed sections. He will be amongst the many learning the circuit on Friday morning during practice with the only experience before hand being on the simulator.
“Competing in the Grand Prix will be my first experience there, which is a pretty cool way to get to know a track,” admits Grosjean. “It looks like quite a fun lap with some high-speed sections and not too much low speed stuff – which hasn’t suited our car so far this year. The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it’s an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.
“There’s a lot you can do with simulators, watching on board laps from other people and going through data and predictions with your engineers as well as driving the track on the Xbox! That said, nothing beats getting in the car and actually driving it for real. I’ll be pretty excited at the start of FP1 as that’s when I’ll really know what sort of track it is.
“You very quickly know what you want from the car and how to put together all the corners which make a circuit that’s new to you. The objective for learning a track and setting up the car is to go as fast as possible so for both it’s all the same goal.”
Grosjean does not know if the Lotus will work well around the Red Bull Ring but feels it should be more competitive than in either Monte Carlo or Montreal.
“We won’t know for sure [where we are] until we’ve been out on track, but I don’t think the circuit should be as much of a challenge to us as Monaco or Montreal,” said Grosjean. “Certainly there are fewer low speed corners which seem to have been more difficult for us this season and the downforce level could suit us better too.”