Romain Grosjean will start an excellent fifth in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Frenchman making a strong statement by getting through into Q3 on the Soft compound tyre, the only driver aside from the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport drivers to do so.
The Haas F1 Team racer was pleased that the courage showed to use the Soft as opposed to the Supersoft for their Q2 attempt paid dividends, while Grosjean was also happy to end up only two tenths of a second away from Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen thanks to his make-or-break lap in Q3 knowing that the weather was closing in on the circuit and rain was coming.
“It’s a great day,” admitted Grosjean, who’s Q3 lap of 1:29.761 was just over two seconds away from the pole time set by championship leader Lewis Hamilton. “I’m very happy with the changes we made from FP3 to qualifying to get the feel back in the car.
“And with the way it behaved in qualifying, we had the courage to put the softs on in Q2 and try to go through on that, which we did. Q3, with one lap, I love it. You know the rain is coming and you’ve got to put everything together. That’s the feeling that I prefer. I had a great lap.
“You always look afterwards and I was only two tenths from Kimi. We’re in a great spot to start the race.”
Grosjean believes the gamble to qualify on the Soft compound should pay off for them on Sunday, particularly with temperatures expected to be much higher than they’ve been all weekend long at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
“Starting on the Soft will be a big advantage compared to the Supersoft, especially with the high temperature tomorrow,” said the Frenchman. “We’ll do our best on our side. We’ll see at the end where we are.”