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A scrappy lap when it mattered left Romain Grosjean just eight on the grid, though the Frenchman conceded that even with his best lap he couldn't have hoped for much more.
Losing his way during practice Grosjean borrowed Kimi Raikkonen's set up before tweaking it for his own tastes. "This is the very positive point from the weekend," he claimed. "We copied a few things Kimi was doing; we came back closer to his set up and make it to my feeling. This is an area where we quite improved."
However qualifying had started badly, Grosjean forced to use a set of supersoft tyres just to progress. "I found two seconds with the supersoft," said the puzzled 26-year-old. "That was a bit strange… maybe the set (of tyres) was rubbish or something like that.
"I'm not too much concerned about going supersoft in Q1," he continued. "At least we were safe." He duly set the fastest time in the first phase of the session before going a tenth of a second faster in the second.
Yet while most drivers improved their times in the final shootout Grosjean went slower.
"If you look at our Q2 lap time the pace is good," he suggested after qualifying. "It's one second from the top and you know that in one second you can put more than one car."
Determined to narrow the margin to pole Grosjean put in a particularly scrappy lap which proved to be his slowest. "We lacked some grip in the last part of the qualifying," he explained. "It was okay until turn 8. I think in 9 I had a big wheelspin."
With encouraging pace early the team is in a positive state of mind heading in to the race. However, compelled to use the supersoft tyres at the beginning of the race just how the team divides the 61 laps up from there is undecided.
"Strategy is not yet fixed; it's in between two and three stops," he said. "It's going to be tough for some teams to do two, maybe some others will try, but that will be the key tomorrow."
Grosjean will start four places ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn had feared earlier in the weekend that the team would struggle while his world championship rivals take the opportunity to streak ahead.
"For sure P12 is not the position we wanted," Raikkonen confessed. "We don't seem to have the speed to challenge the leaders here but the car is definitely quicker than that. We'll see what we can do in the race."
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