Grosjean expecting difficult Italian GP for Lotus

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Romain Grosjean is not expecting miracles for Lotus at next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, and is instead focusing on returning to the top ten at the Singapore Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.

The Frenchman has suffered a difficult season with Lotus thanks to the troublesome E22 car, but has risen into the role of team leader following Kimi Raikkonen’s exit at the end of last year. New teammate Pastor Maldonado is yet to record any points in 2014.

Speaking ahead of the race at Monza, Grosjean said that he expects Lotus to struggle at the high-speed circuit on the outskirts of Milan.

“I think that it will be tough for us; on paper it is not one of the races that we should do that well at,” he admitted.

“But as always we will be fighting hard and trying to get the maximum from the weekend, so that it gives us good momentum for the Singapore weekend later in September when we should be stronger and the track should suit the E22 a little better.

“We will have a one-off rear wing for Monza and the key will be to make the car as quick as possible from an aero point of view, so that we can get back some of the performance from our straight-line speed disadvantage. Then we have to manage the tire degradation.

“Also for us it will be tricky in the big corners like the Lesmos and the Ascari chicane because the less downforce you have then the more difficult it is to get good grip in the turns. It is a tough compromise but one I am sure that the team will get the best solution possible.”

The circuit should play into the hands of the Mercedes-powered teams thanks to its long straights that depend on a good top speed, much as we saw at Spa-Francorchamps.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.