gets ready to saddle up and go steal some points in America
What are your thoughts on the Circuit of the Americas?
Austin is a great track, itís a challenging layout which is refreshing to drive and itís an enjoyable event. The first turn is quite something with its very steep climb and the rest of the lap flows well. The atmosphere at the circuit is really special, even for the first time we visited. Itís great to see the RVs at the side of the track and people staying at the circuit to enjoy the full weekend. The circuit can be a difficult one for tyres. The event is taking place earlier in the year this season so hopefully thereís plenty of sun to burn off any morning fog! Certainly, there can be a variety with the weather and in the past weíve seen it be quite cold at the start of the day.
How about Austin as a place?
Itís really a fantastic location with a lot to do. Itís certainly the type of city Iíd like to visit even if there wasnít a race there! Itís a really lively place with a lot going on. Great food, great music and great people are three things I think about when we go to Austin. The fans are superb too. Itís only the fourth time we will visit Austin, but already itís one event on the calendar that we really look forward to visiting.
What is your feeling on America in general?
Itís a place I love and I have spent a lot of time in Miami.
Whatís your outlook for this race?
I think Austin offers us a good opportunity. The circuit shouldnít pose any particular problems as long as we can get the tyres working as we want. The E23 is a car that generally works well so we have a good baseline to start with. At this point of the year weíre pretty on top of things like set-up and getting the most out of the car so itís a case of getting the laps and simulations done in practice, qualifying as well as possible then targeting points in the race.
How was the Sochi debrief?
It was a solid race for us and the car felt good. We werenít able to get the maximum from the super soft tyres in qualifying and also in the race they didnít reward us with all we wanted, but we were able to push quite well, especially at the end of the race. I was relieved that Romain was fine after his crash. These cars are strong, but it did look like heíd had a big one.
If you had to be a character in a western movie, what would your character be like?
I think there are many people out there who would say I would make a good baddie! Certainly this weekend Iím looking to steal lots of points, so maybe that should be my character.
Last year saw your season-best qualifying position and race result; can we expect more of the same this year?
Certainly, everything went relatively well for us last year in Austin when you compare the performance to the season weíd been having. Thereís no reason to say we canít have a great weekend this year. At every race weíre looking to maximise the package we have; we always look to be as fast as possible in qualifying and finish the race as strongly as possible. I like the Circuit of the Americas, the E23 is a good racing car and Iím confident weíll do the best job we can.
The United States Grand Prix has particular relevance to Romain Grosjean
this year given his future, so what are his plans to make it big in America?
Crash! Bang! Wallop! That was quite a big smash in Sochi Ė how are you feeling?
Iím feeling pretty good, especially considering the force of the impact; I broke my seat! It was my biggest impact for quite a while and when I knew I was going to hit the wall I took my hands off the wheel, closed my eyes and braced myself. Itís a testament to all the safety inherent in the car and the other safety devices, so a little thank you to Bell, HANS, Enstone, the circuit, the FIA and the marshals and medical personnel. Also a big thank you to my crew who had to pick up the pieces and put the car back together.
What do you think could have been possible prior to your E23 component rearrangement?
We certainly had potential to be in the points, even after having to make a first lap stop to get a new front wing.
Youíre going to be spending a lot more time in the US in the future, whatís the appeal?
Itís a pretty amazing country and thereís so much to explore. The people are really friendly and it really seems to be a place of opportunity. Certainly itís a place with great opportunity for me in the future!
What about Austin?
At the moment, the part of America I know the most is Austin for the Grand Prix, and itís a place that I - and I know, my crew, as well Ė really like to visit. Of course, the USA is such a big place which I would love to explore more and Iím going to get that wish fulfilled pretty soon!
What do you think of the Circuit of the Americas?
It looks great and the first time I walked around it in 2012 I thought wow! The gradient up to turn one is really something and it makes for a fun first corner when youíre in the car. Itís a really well presented facility with an interesting circuit layout. Itís great to be at a race where the local character is very evident and thatís certainly the case in Austin, with the fan reception and the American way of presenting events.
What particular challenges does the Circuit of the Americas present?
Itís quite a balanced circuit in that you donít need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well. In the first year the challenge was finding the level of grip we want and we did see the same for the past two races too. Every year so far the race has taken place a little earlier, and thatís good as it generally means warmer weather. This is good for many reasons, but wearing my race driving hat itís good as it helps with tyre warm-up and grip. Grip is something weíve struggled with in Austin in the past, so a warmer circuit with a bit more aged track surface should help with that.
Is it true that you will ride to Austin on your Harley Davidson motorcycle?
One year I will, but not this time! I borrowed one last year before the race and it was great to explore the area. I have my own custom Harley which is really a favourite of mine. Theyíre obviously an iconic US machine so it was great to be able to ride one in its home country. Iíve said before that all the drivers should ride one for the parade lap Ė I think that would be pretty cool!
What can F1 do to be more appealing in America?
Certainly itís becoming more popular since we returned and the event in Austin is perfect to lead this. Weíve heard talk Ė and more Ė about another race, or even a couple of other races, in the US and that would make a difference. A US Formula 1 team would be good, especially one with a French driver. That I can see workingÖ
How are you approaching the final races of 2015?
Itís amazing just how quickly this season has passed, even if itís seemed a long, hard slog at times. We head to Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi and then itís done! The season goes so quick. Iím certainly aiming for the best finale possible for Lotus F1 Team.
Technical Director Nick Chester
explains that Romain will have a race-ready car in Austin as he previews the United States Grand Prix.
What are the main characteristics of the Circuit of the Americas?
The circuit has an interesting layout with a high speed sector one that has an interesting combination of high speed corners. Towards the end of the lap there are more slow speed corners and there is a reasonable back straight. Itís a track that is quite mixed; it is a good technical circuit and one that the drivers like.
Which downforce levels are required for the Circuit of the Americas? Tyre-wear?
The downforce levels are medium to high. We wonít be using maximum downforce as it would slow us down in the first sector and on the back straight. Regarding the tyres, we will have the medium and soft Pirelli compounds in Austin. The wear will be pretty standard Ė the tarmac is still relatively smooth - and we are probably expecting a race with two stops but no extreme tyre-wear.
The team has been successful in Austin in the past - will it suit the E23?
The E23 should go quite well in Austin. It has proved to perform at most tracks and I think that again it should suit the Circuit of the Americas quite well. Hopefully we can qualify in the top 10 and score a good haul of points.
Looking back at the teamís performance in Sochi, was our level of competitiveness expected?
Our prediction had been to be pretty competitive in Russia and Romain proved that by qualifying in eighth on Saturday, only a tenth off sixth on the grid. We thought that we would be pretty good around there. Pastorís race pace on the soft tyre was reasonably good; on the other hand he wasnít as strong on the super soft tyres. Overall the performance on track was solid, of course it is a shame that Romain had a difficult first lap and then a crash, otherwise heíd have been racing Sergio Perez.
Has the team shed light on what happened to Romain on Sunday / reasons of the high speed impact?
There is no indication in the data and in the parts that anything broke and subsequently caused the accident. It isnít easy to draw conclusions in any accident investigation but it looks like Romain was maybe a little bit close to the McLaren and lost some downforce, running out of grip effectively. There is nothing that we can see that makes it a car failure.
What is the extent of the damage?
It is quite significant but still the car stood up well to the impact. The right hand side of the car suffered the damage Ė front and rear suspension right hand side, the nose, the rear wing, crash structure. We havenít seen anything however that should stop us getting the car back together.
The cars wonít come back to Enstone until after the last race of the seasonÖ
Thatís right, itís a long haul for them! Any work that needs carrying out on the cars is done at the track now until Abu Dhabi; this means that the mechanics will be busy in Austin rebuilding Romainís chassis.
Austin is a popular venue for the teamÖ
Absolutely. Itís a great city with a lot going on. When the guys do get away from the track, theyíll enjoy some Texan food for sure. Itís a race with a great atmosphere. The fans are amazing and when they see team members, they ask about the racing with a genuine interest. Itís really nice.