The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was a fraught affair for Lotus‘ Romain Grosjean. A dismal qualifying, in which the Frenchman lined up 18th on the grid, was only made worse when on his final fast lap attempt, he ran into the back of Pedro de la Rosa‘s HRT as it tried to enter the pits. To make things worse, in the rain on race day, Grosjean crashed out of the race while running 10th. These were just some of the many careless instances that prompted many to dismiss Grosjean’s undeniable talent in light of his worryingly frequent errors.
This time around, though, Grosjean comes to Brazil a completely different man. It is perhaps fitting that the season ends at the same venue of one of his silliest errors of the 2012 season. Now a father and mint-time podium finisher, Grosjean is at the top of his game, and many are tipping him to get that first race win very soon. The “first-lap nutcase” label (thanks to Mark Webber) of 2012 is a distant memory, and podium finishes are the norm (he’s had four in the last five races). Star performances are expected now, and hopefully will be no surprise soon.
Grosjean actually doesn’t have much to prove as Formula One enters its last-ever V8-powered Grand Prix. Those podium finishes in the second half of the season have vindicated the Frenchman of the errors of last season and even this season. Whether or not that first win will come in Brazil on a track Grosjean very much enjoys will have to be answered in time, but Grosjean heads into the final race weekend of 2013 full of confidence. Speaking in an official Lotus F1 team press release, Grosjean said of his car’s competitive nature: “The E21 has been performing really well this year and there’s no reason to think it won’t be a great car once again in Brazil.” There certainly isn’t anything holding the car back at his point of the season, and there is nothing holding back Grosjean.
The characteristics of the Interlagos track in Sao Paolo suit Grosjean’s driving style to a tee. The tight and twisty middle sector of the track is the perfect place for Grosjean’s go-kart-like style of driving to come to the fore, and with the rest of the track just flat out straights and slight curves (apart from two tight turns in the first sector), don’t be surprised if we see a new face on the front row, or even pole position. Ultimate lap time has always been a weakness of the Lotus chassis, but not of Grosjean. We have seen the Frenchman put his Lotus far up the grid when his teammate struggled for pace. This puts him in a fantastic position at Interlagos, where the relatively short distance of a lap gives him a better chance of staying close to the Red Bulls.
The future is bright for Grosjean, who’s place at Lotus, if not officially confirmed yet, is assured for at least next season. The only pressure on the Frenchman’s shoulders this weekend is helping get Lotus as many points as possible in their bid for second in the constructors’ championship.