Romain Grosjean has made no secret of Lotus’ struggles at Monza during practice for the Italian Grand Prix today, admitting that the team will struggle to beat backmarkers Marussia in qualifying tomorrow.
Jules Bianchi finished ahead of both Lotus drivers in the second free practice session on Friday afternoon, with Marussia teammate Max Chilton also managing to finish ahead of Pastor Maldonado in the final classification.
Although Lotus thought it struggle at Monza this weekend, few would have expected the team to slip behind long-time backmarkers Marussia. For Grosjean though, it isn’t that surprising.
“It wasn’t an easy day,” he explained on Friday evening. “I was predicting that maybe Marussia would be quicker than we are, which is not far from being the case. They are quite good in low speed [corners], they were quiet good in Monaco.
“They have the Ferrari engine which has made some good progress. On paper I don’t think it is that much of a bad car around here.”
Grosjean explained that he had some minor problems on his car throughout FP2, but he feels that this does not make up for a great deal of the time lost.
“We had some small issues this afternoon,” he said. “There was a problem with the engine. I went wide in turn seven and damaged some part of the floor which cost me some lap time in the low fuel run, but generally the car is not good at this type of track.
“I think the challenge will be to get into Q2. We may just be on the cut-off. We might find a little bit of performance but in general it is going to be very tight.
“It’s no big surprise unfortunately.”
Looking at the practice times, the situation may not be so bleak for Lotus. Although it is trailing behind Marussia over a single lap, its long-run pace is certainly more encouraging. In FP2, Grosjean and Maldonado averaged laps in the mid-1:31s region, whilst the Marussia’s efforts were largely in the low-1:32s.
You can watch qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET tomorrow.