Lotus’ Romain Grosjean may have had some issues with the car during Friday’s practice sessions, but the French father of one made a really good impression under the floodlights on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, qualifying in third place behind pole sitter Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Nico Rosberg.
His team mate however, the Ferrari-bound Kimi Räikkönen, was not even being able to make it out of Q2,, thanks to a legacy that stems back to a 2001 testing accident whilst with Sauber as reported by Autosport, due to back problems plaguing the 2007 World Champion.
The ‘Iceman’ is still going to “try to get the maximum from where we are,” having ended up in thirteenth place, but it was not for a lack of trying, as when a driver has to cope with the pain of a back issue on such a bumpy track on top of the usual workload, it shows that if said driver is not at 100%, something gets compromised. The Finn’s attitude was nevertheless resolute about the race itself: “It’s not the first time I’ve driven with a problem and it probably won’t be the last time either.”
Grosjean paid compliments to the Enstone squad, as he felt good behind the wheel on a track where precision is key and overtaking is difficult: “The car felt good all day; enough that we were confident in taking a risk during Q1 by not running the option tyres. It was a great strategy call that really paid off, and I think with a little more luck on the out lap we could maybe even have been one place higher. Sebastian looks to have a pretty clear advantage, but we’ve got lots of fresh tyres for tomorrow so a podium is definitely the target.”
Trackside Operations Director, Alan Permane said that there were “mixed feelings” after qualifying, as a result of Kimi’s issues with his back, but said that it was “a pretty much perfect day” for Grosjean. He did however admitted that the E21 was lacking as an overall package at the last two races at Spa and Monza: “We were expecting better performance once we got to the higher downforce tracks such as Singapore and this has also transpired.”
However, he said that this does not detract from the man that everyone says is ‘hard to beat’: “Our long run pace was very good yesterday with Kimi second on pace only to the Red Bulls. There’s no reason why a podium for Romain is not possible and we have seen some storming drives through the field from Kimi in the past too. We could be in for an exciting and rewarding race.”
The title may be sown up when it comes to which driver will be at the top of the tree come Interlagos, but at least the others can fight hard to the remaining scraps, as Lotus intend to do so with the Asian rounds helping to play to the strengths of the E21 starting right now.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic (c)