Romain Grosjean says Lotus has proved it is a front-running team
|By Matt Beer||Friday, June 29th 2012, 14:36 GMT|
Lotus has now proved it is a 'big team', according to Romain Grosjean, and is capable of consistently going head to head with what team boss Eric Boullier called its 'corporate monster' rivals.
Although the Enstone squad is not among the five teams that have won races in the 2012 Formula 1 season, drivers Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen have now taken five podium finishes and been victory contenders on several occasions, putting Lotus third in the constructors' championship at present, just 11 points behind McLaren.
In Valencia last weekend Grosjean was challenging Fernando Alonso for the lead before retiring with alternator problems, and Raikkonen finished second.
"We made a real step forwards in Valencia, understanding some performance considerations which will help us for the rest of the season," said Grosjean. "I can't wait to put them into practice at Silverstone.
"Ultimately, we didn't finish, but through no fault of our own. I was as sad as the team. The win was there for the taking, but it just got away. I have to be patient. I didn't achieve my first win in Valencia, but I am convinced that it will come.
"It's great to fight with world champions, proper big teams. We are now a big team."
Boullier said Lotus's progress in recent weeks had made the atmosphere at Enstone better than at any time under the current regime.
"One year ago, I felt like everyone was motivated like never before; that every single member of the staff was ready to go the extra mile to see us do well on the track. Well... 2011 doesn't even compare to 2012, as I think we have made another step," he said.
He added: "Recent results have boosted everybody's hopes and commitment in Enstone. The team is united, the expectations are high. The spirit from the late 2009 season is far, far away."
Boullier also believes Lotus's ethos is paying dividends in its on-track performance, suggesting the team has a different approach to its rivals.
"Corporate speeches and political games are not for us," he said.
"We've got nothing to do with the corporate monsters we're fighting against on the track. This is probably why Romain's and Kimi's personalities are expressing themselves so freely at the wheel."
Although Valencia was tipped to be the ideal circuit for the Lotus E20's strong points, Grosjean sees no reason why the team's form in Spain cannot carry over to Britain.
"I think we head to Silverstone with more confidence," he said. "We understand a few more things with the car. It was good to have a really hot weekend all the way through at Valencia as we were able to work on the car and really analyse things.
"Silverstone is very high speed; I'm confident we'll have strong pace and that should lead to a good race."