Grosjean: Pole was in sight
Frenchman thinks Lotus race pace will figure again
By Mike Wise in Monaco. Last Updated: 27/05/12 8:01am
Romain Grosjean reckoned pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix was his for the taking but for a slow second sector in Saturday's qualifying session.
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The Frenchman, who is making his Formula 1 debut in the Principality this weekend, appeared on course for top spot after setting the fastest first sector time during his final qualifying run but subsequently lost time and will start the race fourth on the grid.
Grosjean in fact set the fifth fastest time of the final session but has been promoted a place in light of the penalty handed down to the fastest driver in qualifying, Michael Schumacher, after the Spanish Grand Prix.
"I lost one-and-a-half tenths, I think, compared to the best one," he said. "I haven't looked at the data at the moment (so) I don't know why but I noticed we struggled a little bit more since the beginning.
"It's not a huge difference but this is where we probably lost pole position."
Grosjean has appeared confident all week in Monaco and this attitude again seemed evident on Saturday as he set a time of 1:14.639s on his first flying lap in the top-ten session.
Only the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was faster than him at that point, but Grosjean's second attempt was slower, and also bettered by Schumacher, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.
"I think after the first run in Q3, we saw that Rosberg was only six hundredths quicker than us so yeah, let's go for it and see what we can do. But it was not enough," Grosjean admitted.
Rain on Thursday prevented Lotus from running the supersoft compound - which is making its season debut this weekend - until final practice on Saturday morning.
Grosjean admitted that the lack of running on the red tyre had introduced a greater element of the unknown into the strategic equation but reckons Lotus's strong race pace will again figure.
"I think it will be quite tough for the engineers on the pitwall to see what we can do. For us as well, to give an idea of what we think of the tyres, which phase we are in and how long can we keep them," he said.
"But then we know that normally our car is pretty good on race pace, even better than on qualy. So let's hope it's going to be a good race."
Of his chances of jumping polesitter Webber at the lights, Grosjean added: "I'm on the second row, it's good - there's a gap in between the cars in front of me, I can jump really quickly with a good start and then let's see where we are at the first corner: second, third, stay in fourth.
"We'll see in the race. Seventy-eight laps is quite long and even if we are a bit disappointed with P5 - or P4 as Michael gets a penalty - it's only my first Formula 1 qualifying in Monaco."