E21 can take Grosjean to first win

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Romain Grosjean is confident that the Lotus E21 is capable of taking him to his first Formula One victory in 2013.

“We should be able to [win] but you never know what the other teams have been working on as well. That’s the tricky bit.

“We want to achieve that, for sure, but I think the most important thing is to follow your weekend step by step and not think about the win before you’ve even started the free practice sessions.”

Grosjean joined Lotus at the beginning of 2012, and despite showing good pace during his debut season, his tendency to get caught up in accidents overshadowed his results. He insists that he has matured over the winter, and the former GP2 champion believes that anything is possible this season.

“Our target is to improve from the previous season. We finished fourth in the constructors’ championship and we want to improve from there step-by-step.”

The new car, the Lotus E21, was quick in testing, and Grosjean revealed his delight with it ahead of the opening race of the season.

“The car has been well born, as we say. It is a step forward compared with last year, clearly, so I’m quite positive about the car. It looks good and it feels good to drive, and that’s all we can say at this stage. I hope I’m right.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.