Romain Grosjean will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from fifth place on the grid after a nail-biting qualifying session affected by stop-start rain and damp track conditions.
It couldn’t have been a better situation for the Haas driver, who admitted that he loved days when it came down to making the correct decision at the right time, and punching in a single do-or-die flying lap.
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“It’s a great day,” the Frenchman said. “I’m very happy with the changes we made from FP3 to qualifying to get the feel back in the car.
“With the way it behaved in qualifying, we had the courage to put the softs on in Q2 and try to go through on that, which we did.
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“Then Q3 with one lap, I love it,” he continued. “You know the rain is coming and you’ve got to put everything together. That’s the feeling that I prefer. I had a great lap.”
With Ferrari having a difficult time in the session, Grosjean came close to beating Kimi Raikkonen for a second row spot. “I was only two tenths from Kimi,” he pointed out.
“We’re in a great spot to start the race. Starting on the soft will be a big advantage compared to the supersoft, especially with the high temperature tomorrow.
“We’ll do our best on our side. We’ll see at the end where we are.”
Unfortunately Grosjean’s team mate Kevin Magnussen didn’t have such a great time in qualifying, after his initial Q2 run on soft tyres was thwarted by traffic and the weather than interfered with his second attempt.
“I didn’t get the lap time on the first run in Q2 on the softs,” said the Dane. “[Pierre] Gasly came out of the pit as I started my fast lap.
“He didn’t do it on purpose, but in sector one it’s just impossible to get out of the way. I was driving behind him, lost downforce, then I made a mistake which cost the lap.
“It was just bad luck and the nature of the track. It’s frustrating, as I think I could’ve been in Q3 on the soft tyre. That was our plan, to go through to Q3 on the soft and start the race on softs.
“We tried to get out on supersofts to get us into Q3, but it didn’t happen due to the rain.
“I’ll probably start on the soft tomorrow with the free tyre choice. A few people around me won’t, so I think we could have an advantage on them if the supersoft falls apart quickly.
“Perhaps they’ll fall into traffic when they pit, then I can go along and hopefully get the jump!”
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