Romain Grosjean: “It’s a very challenging circuit and unique on the calendar”

As Formula One heads into the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, the Lotus-Mercedes team is looking forward to the race after scoring in three consecutive races with Romain Grosjean meanwhile his team mate Pastor Maldonado hasn’t been so lucky in the last three races and has retired with reliability failures.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race, Grosjean is looking forward to his ‘unofficial’ home race and is grateful for the support he will receive. But he knows that the circuit is very challenging; that doesn’t allow you to make mistakes but he is looking forward to the weekend.

“It’s like an unofficial French Grand Prix first of all! It’s great to see so much French support every year and there are so many flags and banners,” said Grosjean.   “It’s a very challenging circuit and unique on the calendar.

“As a driver you have to stay calm and relaxed on a track that doesn’t allow for any mistakes. I’ve been super quick in the past, but I’ve also hit the walls too, so there’s a real balance to be struck. It’s an exciting and glamorous Grand Prix but always a step into the unknown, because it’s difficult to predict how well each car will work there. It’s a crazy week with all the focus and attention, but everyone loves Monaco.”

Grosjean also understands that finding the right balance on the car and also within himself is important to be competitive at the circuit even though he has the pressures of dealing with the sponsors at their home race too. But he does believe that even though the circuit hasn’t been kind to them over the years; the E23 Hybrid could do well this weekend; even though they still have to put in the preparation and also look after the Pirelli tyres.

“When you finish a lap and you know it’s quick because you’ve given everything and thought you were about to go off about three times, it is something special,” added Grosjean. “Finding the balance between pushing too hard and not enough makes a huge difference in Monaco.

“It true there are almost too many things to do. I will try to find some time for myself in my room and keep focusing on what I have to do. It’s a home Grand Prix for the sponsors, so very important for them and for us it is a very challenging track.

“The emphasis at Monaco is on low speed corners, which is historically hasn’t been our greatest strength, but this year our package as proved to be pretty good no matter what the circuit layout: the E23 is a pretty adaptable car! Bumpy straights and a low grip surface are the other main Monaco characteristics and how well you adapt to them can make or break your weekend. We generally prefer the softer tyres of Pirelli’s range, but you need really, really soft and grippy tyres for Monaco as it’s so slippy!”

Meanwhile, Maldonado is looking forward to the race this weekend and believes that his performances in the past have helped shape his love for the circuit. He also echoes his team mate’s sentiments about the track being challenging and you have to keep your concentration physically and mentally in order to get the best result possible; even though it can be difficult to overtake.

“First of all it’s such an historic Grand Prix and an iconic race for Formula 1. I really love it,” said Maldonado. “I’ve been very quick in the past and I think it is one of the most special weekends of the year. The atmosphere is unique. The track is really challenging and changes a lot over the sessions, which you need to anticipate.

“It’s difficult to be quick close to the walls and overall it’s a very tough race, demanding in terms of concentration and stressful physically and mentally. The only negative thing is that it is quite difficult to overtake, but it is not impossible.

When asked which corners he liked best on the Monaco circuit, Maldonado stated that he liked the Casino Square and Swimming Pool sections of the track even though he appreciates that every corner of the lap is challenging, and that is what makes it truly unique to drive.

“I really like the Casino and Swimming Pool sections,” said Maldonado.  “Every corner in Monaco has its own challenge, and own individual approach needed – that is probably the beauty of the circuit there. It’s where I live now so I might be biased, but it’s a very special place.”

Maldonado is hoping his luck changes soon as he seeks his first points finish of 2015 and only his second since becoming a Lotus driver at the beginning of 2014.  He reflected on the clash with his team-mate in Spain that resulted in a damaged wing, and revealed he has yet to talk to Grosjean about the incident.

“Our luck hasn’t been great but this is racing,” added Maldonado. “With the damaged rear wing endplate I suffered early in the race, we lost some downforce for sure. However, the pace was still there and I was pushing to try and recover. Unfortunately we had to retire the car on Lap 45. I didn’t get a chance to speak to Romain because we both left immediately after the race.

“It was a very little touch. It happened but we move on, it’s all a part of racing. We have a car that has a lot of potential and we are fighting ever higher in the field. We have a good engine and the tyres are lasting longer and that makes us confident that we can get some good results in the near future. We need to stay strong and as soon as the bad luck passes it will be very fun!”