Grosjean had a difficult start to the season and had initially failed to find the sweet spot that team-mate Kimi Raikkonen found early on. The Frenchman finished the first three rounds consistently in the points but whilst Raikkonen was battling at the forefront, Grosjean was battling for minor points.
His struggles continued in qualifying after he was knocked out in the second session. After lining up in 11th place for the start of the race, he looked and felt much more confident in the car come race day and crossed the line to clinch third place, his fourth ever Formula 1 podium finish.
He had a chassis change prior to the race but Eric Boullier cited that it took more than that to get him more confident in the E21, it was the fact that Lotus managed to deliver a car more suited to his liking and driving style.
Talking to Sky Sports F1 he said “I think it’s first a big relief for him, he had a not so easy start of the season; yes regularly in the points, but he was not enjoying it as much as he wanted. So we as a team did a great job by working very hard and we went through every detail – including a chassis change – but I think we found a couple of things this weekend which help him to drive the car and obviously enjoy driving the car.
“That changed his world. You could see Romain in the race enjoying overtaking and that’s the Romain we like.”
Boullier said that after last years Belgian Grand Prix, where Grosjean caused a monumental first lap crash, his french driver lost confidence in his ability. However now it looks like he is back to his best and with more promising results to come.
“Obviously after Spa last year he went through a difficult period. He had to rebuild himself, rebuild his confidence and I know he worked very, very hard over the winter. He took all the people he needed around him to rebuild his confidence. Obviously he’s been under lots of pressure since the beginning of the season but I think this is the start of his season.”
Grosjean looked like a different driver in Bahrain, managing to combine the maturity and control shown in the latter half of the year but with the speed and raw pace that we got a glimpse of early in 2012.
He may still be trailing Raikkonen but the margin was considerably cut in Bahrain, could a race win be next? If he finds the sweet spot like he did last weekend, it could be on the cards.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic