Romain Grosjean: “I am not the same man”
2011 GP2 Asia Series Champion reflects on new title
Romain, GP2 Asia Series Champion for the second time. How does that sound? Romain Grosjean: It sounds pretty good. We came to Asia to get some mileage and some data about the new car and the new tyres which were a big question mark for everybody. In the first day of testing in Abu Dhabi, things went very well, we were P1, but on the last day, we were P23. Everyone thought that we were hiding something and our real pace, but not at all. We were completely lost. I was a bit worried about the pace. And then, in the first qualifying session of the season we were on pole by four tenths. We made a great job and I think we kept improving through all the Series. Today again was a good experience because it is my first sprint race of the season after someone crashed into me in Abu Dhabi’s sprint race on the first lap. I think we can still improve some more and now I know it is up to us to analyse the data and what we want to do during the four days of testing next month and how we can improve the team. I am very proud to be part of Dams and help to bring them back to the top. The Asia Series’ level this year was really high because only Christian Vietoris was missing for now. It was a good benchmark for everyone.
You started your GP2 career in 2008 with the same title. Does it feel like you are back to square one? Romain Grosjean: Absolutely not. You never lose time when you are racing. Every single year has been a great experience, even my time in Formula One. It could look like it was a disaster, but that’s not the case because I learned so much especially alongside Fernando Alonso who has been very nice with me. And then the GTs were a good experience too. They gave me a little bit more self-control and patience. Every season was worth it. I am back in GP2 now and I don’t think anyone expected it. I’m sure I can have better results than the ones I got in 2008 and 2009.
In what state of mind were you this morning before the race? Romain Grosjean: I was fine. I woke up, spoke with some friends on internet. I am not the same man I used to be. I just came here. I had a nice meal with Jean-Paul Driot, Loic David and Jules Bianchi’s grandfather who was sitting at the same table. We chatted all together. I was in a good mood. The team is great and makes me feel good. When I crashed in free practice on Friday, usually team members are angry, but they were not. They told me that they knew things will pick up.
Before the start of the season, did you think you could become Champion again? Romain Grosjean: I knew we would get the pace at one point. It was a good surprise that we were fast from the very beginning. I’m very grateful because the team did a great job. We will keep the pressure though because I know ART or iSport or other teams are working very hard and they are going to come back for sure. We need to keep pushing, but it’s a good way to start the season.
You’ve won every championship you’ve been competing in except for GP2 and Formula One. Surely, wining the GP2 Series is your next target. Romain Grosjean: Absolutely, yes. If I win it, I think I would have done the job. I’m here to help Dams become one of the top teams and I think we are on the right path. It’s a personal challenge: we want to show everybody that we are here and we can be champions.
What will it take for you to grab that next title? Romain Grosjean: You can always improve in every single aspect. In 2008, I made some rookie mistakes and I had some bad luck as well. The worse memory I have from that season is when I was leading in Magny-Cours and the gearbox broke down with five laps left in the race. This year, we have to be constant. That’s the key in GP2. I have to make no mistake.
When you signed with Dams, people saw you as one of the main title contenders for 2011. Now, they may see you as the man to beat. Who do you see as your competition? Romain Grosjean: There will be many. At the moment, I see Lotus ART as one of the strongest teams. I am sure that Barwa will be there along with iSport. There will also definitely be Racing Engineering because Dani now has quite a lot of experience. But there could be others as well because in GP2, pretty much, anything can happen.