After a shocking weekend in Monza where the Lotus F1 Team were lucky to out-qualify the Marussia and Caterham teams, both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are hopeful of an improved performance for the team when Formula 1 resumes in Singapore.
Grosjean is looking forward to Singapore after the trials and tribulations of the recent races on the calendar, admitting that he enjoys racing around the streets. He is particularly interested to find out what the new cars feel like around Singapore, but insists he will make sure every detail is sorted out before the race start on Sunday.
“I really love racing at this track and in fact I love the country as a whole,” insists Grosjean. “The Singapore people are very friendly and it is nice to see so many coming downtown to the race. It has a completely unique vibe for the Grand Prix weekend and it takes on an ambience like nowhere else we go to.
“The track is really impressive with some technical parts and some classic street circuit ‘ninety degree’ turns. There are a few decent straights but it is mainly busy, busy, busy for us, with corner after corner. Going over landmarks like the (Anderson) Bridge and down the Raffles Boulevard make for a fantastic sight from both the cockpit and also for the TV viewers.
“This year will be interesting with the new cars. As we saw at Monaco, I am sure that the drivers will be working very hard in the cockpit, especially getting the power down out of the tight turns. And if it is wet at any stage then it will be particularly interesting.
“The race is long and I ensure that plenty of liquids are taken on board before the start of the race. It is crucial because if you get dehydrated then your thought process slows down and mistakes can easily be made. Like every Grand Prix I make sure that every last detail is in place before Sunday evening arrives.”
The Frenchman reflects on the difficulties the team faced in Italy last time out, and hopes the Singapore weekend allows Lotus to show themselves in a better light, and aspires to return to the points for the first time since Monaco in May.
“It was another difficult race after a bad start and then a few incidents,” reflects Grosjean. “All in all it was important for the team to get two cars to the end but we will be hoping for much better at Singapore and I think we can head in to it with some renewed confidence.
“Last weekend was a difficult one for us because the nature of the Monza track was like a penalty. Singapore offers less in terms of compromising the downforce for straight-line speed, so we should be able to fight higher up the grid. We managed to get some points at Monaco, so I am hoping we can achieve something similar on this street circuit too.
“It has been a tough season as we all know, but there are still some opportunities to get points. I will be racing as hard as ever to make sure we are in the best position we can be to achieve the maximum. I know this team well and they will be doing exactly the same.”
Team-mate Maldonado is in agreement with Grosjean that the Singapore track should suit the Lotus team far better than Monza, and although is not expecting a big step forward, he is hoping for a improved performance.
“It should be better at Singapore for us, and a step forward from Monza,” believes Maldonado. “At this stage of the season it is not going to be a massive step, but we expect better things for sure. We will do our very best to make sure that we find a good balance for Singapore because it is a very particular track with lots of different challenges. Of course the one big challenge is the race and most of the other running happens later in the day.
“It is not too different to racing in the day or at night. The main reason is quite simple – when we drive we do not look upwards, we are always focusing on what is straight ahead. The big change is the temperature of the tarmac, which is slightly cooler at night. So we have a slightly different approach because of this. We have to adapt our styles a little and make sure we create heat in the tyres as much as we can.”
The Venezuelan knows how demanding the track is, especially with the number of corners and the lack of proper straights, but believes the humidity of Singapore is the biggest concern for drivers.
“Overall it is a very demanding track where you get no rest at all really,” said Maldonado. “You are constantly turning or braking and there are only two short straights, not enough to really have a proper rest. But I like it this way because you get a rhythm going quickly. Physically it is tough because the humidity is so high and the race so long, much longer than Monza for instance.
“The physical demands are much harder because of the extreme humidity so I make sure I am very well hydrated in the days leading up to the race and of course during time in the cockpit. It is probably the most important part of our preparation.
“The traction will be fundamental at Singapore, a really big factor. This is because the corners are generally slow and tight, so it means the way we exit them will be critical to ensure a good lap time. The 2014 spec cars will make it very interesting out there and I expect it to be very tricky, especially the first and third sectors. This is where a lot of time can be won or lost. It will be tough to regulate the torque and the traction out of the slow speed corners. It will be a good challenge but a tough one lap after lap.
“It should look good for the spectators and TV viewers though. Marina Bay is a test, but this is the reason we love to be F1 drivers. There is something new and challenging every year for us to get to grips with, literally in this case!”