Romain Grosjean was left grinning from ear to ear after another impressive weekend for him and the Lotus team.
Grosjean, who impressed at last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix with a third place finish, returned to the podium for the second consecutive race, finishing in third once again after a race long battle with the two Red Bull cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
The Frenchman made a sensational start to the race as he jumped from fourth on the grid to lead by the time the field filed into turn one, controlling the pace throughout the first stint ahead of Mark Webber, only to lose the lead late in the race when passed by Sebastian Vettel who was on fresher rubber, having stopped eight laps later.
“Today was just a very, very good race”, said the 27-year-old. “What a start!
“It was superb to go past both the Red Bulls like that and it’ll be one of my best memories of the year.
“The car was fantastic on the first set of tyres and we managed to pull away, but then the Red Bulls were able to reel us in later on. Ultimately, we were the only car to almost catch the bull.
“It’s been a great home race for my engineer; it’s always good to come to Japan and it’s really good to be back on the podium again.”
Grosjean’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified just ninth after a difficult Saturday, had a more successful race come Sunday, battling with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso in the early stages of the Grand Prix, before ultimately coming home in fifth behind the Spaniard, rounding off an impressive weekend for the Lotus squad.
“I had a very poor start”, said the Finn. “I left the line with wheelspin and lost a few places which wasn’t ideal, but I managed to gain places back later on in the race.
“After the final pit stop the car was working much better. It ran well in the last half of the race and I was very happy with it.
“It was a pretty normal race I would say. It’s difficult to overtake here so it’s good that we got some points. We did what we could.”
Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier was ecstatic with the result, especially singling out Romain Grosjean for praise after the Frenchman’s excellent drive to third, which he believes is a strong indication that the Enstone-based squad can challenge Ferrari and Mercedes for second in the Constructor’s Championship over the remaining four races.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic