Less stress for ‘nutcase’ Grosjean
ONE RACE AT A TIME: Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean has been assured his a long-term future with his current team. Does this mean an end to first lap crashes?
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON, England - Lotus is expecting a new-look Romain Grosjean for the 2013 season after assuring the crash-prone French Formula 1 driver that he has a long-term future with them.
Grosjean earned a one-race ban in 2012 after a Belgian Grand Prix collision that put Ferrari's title contender Fernando Alonso out of the race, with the Spaniard lucky to escape serious injury.
Red Bull's Mark Webber dubbed Grosjean a "first lap nutcase" for the number of starting crashes he was involved in but Grosjean has been addressing the problem since September 2012 with the help of a sports psychologist.
'HE'S A DIFFERENT GUY'
Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez said: "He's a different guy. He knows what he has to do, he doesn't have that pressure, stress.
"We essentially have told him he's got a long-term future with us so now he can literally take it race by race, practice by practice. He's got the speed to win races so we think we've got a very good pair of drivers and a good car."
Lotus only confirmed in December 2012 that Grosjean, a former GP2 champion who is backed by team sponsor Total, would stay for a second season alongside Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen, who made his F1 comeback in 2012 after two years in rallying, won the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP and has set his sights on winning more than just a solitary race in 2013.
Lopez said: "We feel pretty good about the car. We've got two drivers who now are really into it, know the team, know the car, know the tracks. I think Kimi would have won more races in 2012 if it wasn't for a number of reasons."
Lotus is the only top team currently without a title sponsor, with rumours of a big deal in the pipeline failing to produce anything, but Lopez said that could change during the course of the season.
Lopez said: "We've had discussions and some of them were quite advanced. It's important to have the right package and to a large extent, that is also financial.
"I guess we could probably have signed a couple of things that leaked out but we think we are better off making sure that we sign what is the right thing for us.
"We will probably end up with something during the 2013 season."