Lotus driver Romain Grosjean does not believe that he will be fighting for points in the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, but felt that his practice runs went better than he was expecting on Friday at Spa.
The French driver finished 13th in the first free practice session and 14th in FP2, but conceded in a media session on Friday evening that the lack of power in the Renault engine is proving particularly costly at Spa.
“It was not as bad as I was expecting in FP1,” Grosjean said. “We had a small technical issue on the rear of the car early on in the run, so hopefully that will explain the loss of performance. We knew it would be a track where we suffer.”
When asked to predict how he would fare during qualifying and the race, the Lotus driver said that under normal conditions he expects to be scrapping outside of the points.
“At the moment, I wouldn’t say that the top ten is possible,” he admitted. “Probably inbetween 12th and 15th, 16th.
“But again, the weather may change and that always helps you a little bit when you’re struggling.”
Grosjean’s teammate, Pastor Maldonado, also endured a difficult practice on Friday, culminating in a huge crash at the beginning of FP2. However, he was more optimistic than Grosjean when it came to gauging Lotus’ chances of points.
“The car looks, to be honest, not too bad,” he said. “Let’s do our best tomorrow. I think still we have a good chance to be close to the top ten, and then in the race, everything can happen.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.
The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.
“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”
The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.
SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.
Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.
With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.