Romain Grosjean heads to China with the ambition of achieving a top-10 finish which eluded the Haas driver in Melbourne despite the undeniable speed of the team’s new VF-17.
Grosjean was unable to capitalize on his stellar qualifying effort in Australia but the performance confirmed his car’s overall balance and potential.
“The car felt good to drive from the first lap,” says Grosjean.
“It’s a shame we did not finish, but things are good and we keep our fingers crossed that she’ll be as good in China as she was in Australia.”
While retiring from a race is obviously counter-productive, it doesn’t bother Grosjean to sacrifice a bit of reliability for speed and performance, at least in the early part of the season.
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“It’s always good to have a fast car, one that’s maybe not 100 percent reliable, over a slow car that is reliable.
“I wouldn’t have much fun finishing the grand prix in 15th, but if I’m always fighting in the top-10 and having some good results, sometimes having an issue at the beginning of the year is not a huge deal.
“We’ve got the performance, which is what we want. If the car is fast, we can aim for some good points and the reliability is something we know we can fix.”
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The Frenchman enjoys a good track record in China, with three point-paying finishes in five visits but all of them coming from a top-10 starting spot, underlining the importance of qualifying.
“Shanghai is a tricky track because it’s very different from the early stages in the year. It’s a front-limited circuit, meaning that the car needs to work well with front tires.
“If it doesn’t, then it gets very tricky. Overtaking in Shanghai is not impossible. There’s the long backstraight with DRS helping overtaking maneuvers.
“In general, if the car is good in qualifying, the race should be quite good. If not, then in the race you’re going to struggle.
“If you qualify in the top-10, you should finish in the top-10. If you’re not, then it’s harder.”
Grosjean goes into detail about the Shanghai venue which appears to play into his strengths.
“I love turn one, just because it’s a challenge going flat-out into the corner, then downshifting into second to finish up. It’s a pretty cool corner,” he adds.
“Turn one is a pretty challenging part. It’s such a long corner, you can actually make some difference.
“Then being up on the back straight, that long right-hand side corner, going onto the throttle, as well, is important because you’ve got one-and-a-half kilometer of straight line.
“You need to be as early as possible on the power.”
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