Lotus duo look ahead to Spa


After a strong second position last time out in Budapest, Kimi Raikkonen arrives at one his very favourite circuits - where he already has four wins to his name - with everything to play for.

You were second in Budapest before the summer break; how good would it be to get that elusive win at Spa?
Kimi Raikkonen: Usually I've achieved good results at the Belgian Grand Prix, but what's happened before doesn't help me right now. Saying that though it doesn't do any harm either. Obviously it would be great to win at Spa for a fifth time. I haven't won during the first part of the season and the extra points are always good.

How has your history been at the circuit?
KR: For me there have only been good memories from Spa and it's great to go racing there. You can't get the same kind of a feeling anywhere else. It's great to race with a modern racing car at a proper circuit that has such a great tradition.

What are the challenges of this track and do you think it should suit the strengths of the E20?
KR: Spa offers very challenging high-speed corners and you need to get the right set-up for the car. As we've seen so many times this year, a good grid position is extremely important and it could be decisive at Spa too. Everybody knows it. It's crucial to have a strong car aerodynamically to tackle those fast corners. It's a long lap and to get a fast time you really need to maintain good rhythm. So much can depend on the qualifying result, so we need to find a decent set-up on Friday and Saturday and have a solid qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

Why has Spa been so good to you?
KR: Sometimes there are certain circuits where everything seems to run smoothly and then there are others where you have no luck at all. Of course, we will do our very best to win this race. I have stood in the middle of the podium a few times and I want to be there again.

Is Spa one of your favourite tracks?
KR: I bet every driver likes Spa. For me it is the greatest racing circuit in the world. It is my favourite place. I've liked it since my first ever visit there in 2000 with Formula Renault.

How are you feeling about your championship position?
KR: I am now fifth in the championship and obviously aiming at getting more points than the guys in front of me. The smaller the gap to the leaders is the better for me and for the team. Every race from here on is very important. The whole team is pushing 100 % and we need to beat our rivals and take more points than they do every time.

You've been close many times; would it be good to score your next Formula 1 win at the location of your most recent victory?
KR: We always try to win; some days you get close to it and it's a bit disappointing that we haven't quite made that final step. We know the reason though; we've not been so strong in qualifying as we have in the race which makes life harder for ourselves on Sundays. Of course we would rather win than come second or third but it's a long season and I think we're improving all the time. If it comes then great, if not we'll keep trying. I've been in the business long enough that I don't really worry about things too much. We've been improving our position in the championships - both for myself and for the team - so as long as we keep doing that hopefully the win will come.

After a summer break spent enjoying his honeymoon, Romain Grosjean comes back for the second half of the season refreshed and, in his own words, stronger than ever.

What are your thoughts about Spa-Francorchamps?
Romain Grosjean: What a track; it's fantastic! A superb rollercoaster of a circuit, then there's the added bonus that they speak French meaning it's another home race for me after Monaco and Canada. It's going to be good. I hope the upgrades to the car are going to make the difference. If we'd had the pace we displayed at Budapest on a more normal track with better places to overtake we could have taken the win. Spa is a more regular circuit with good passing opportunities, so let's see what happens.

You haven't driven with it yet, but what are your thoughts about the new 'device' as tested by Kimi?
RG: The interesting device! If it gives me an advantage I'm certainly looking forward to driving with it! I'm sure it will be a good thing, especially if we have it working well. Hopefully it gives us an advantage and the race win that we want.

Do you feel the team are where they need to be in terms of qualifying?
RG: I think we're in a pretty good place now. We understand a few things a bit better and if you take the last race we had as a measure we are showing good qualifying and race pace which is what we need to do.

The E20 looks to be cementing itself as a very good race car; how much are you looking forward to driving it through the classic corners of
RG: Spa- Francorchamps?

It should fit the E20 pretty well. The second half of the season looks good in terms of how the tracks should suit the car. Hopefully we'll have everything we need to win races. I'm looking forward to it as it's a special track; it's Spa and also I won the GP2 Series title there last year. It'll be good to be back there again.

The first half of your season seemed to have something of a good weekend / bad weekend pattern. Have you done everything you can to prevent the bad weekends?
RG: As a team, we're all doing our best to prevent these bad experiences. This year, any grid penalty linked to a gearbox change, any technical failure, any DNF caused by a collision, could lose the team a place in the Constructors' Championship. We all know what is at stake. On a personal level, I've learnt a lot from the first eleven races of the year and I'm finding my own balance, finding what is good and what is bad. I've had time in the summer break to evaluate the first half of the year and hopefully I'll come back stronger. I'm still a young driver and three podiums so far this year is a reasonable performance. I've been fighting with world champions and I'm pretty happy with where I am. However, I will never be complacent and I'll try to be a better driver at every single race.

How are you feeling in yourself?
RG: It was good to have a holiday, especially for me as it was my honeymoon! It has certainly been an intense first half of the year, so it's good to let the body and mind get some rest and I'm coming back stronger and ready for action.

You're currently eighth in the Drivers' Championship; what can be achieved by the end of the year?
RG: I'm just taking it race by race. It's very tight with myself, Jenson [Button] and Nico [Rosberg] all covered by only two points and there's no reason why we can't keep climbing higher. It was good to be back on the podium before the break and I think we've got a better chance than ever to win races, so let's aim for more in the second part of the season.

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Published: 24/08/2012
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