Grosjean ready to bounce back at “special” British GP

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Romain Grosjean is hoping to bounce back from a retirement at the last race in Austria with a strong performance at next weekend’s British Grand Prix.

The Frenchman has led Lotus’ revival in 2015, getting to grips with the all-new Mercedes-powered E23 Hybrid car quickly and scoring points on four occasions in the first eight races.

Heading to the race at Silverstone next weekend, Grosjean is hoping to put on a show at Lotus’ home grand prix, with the factory being located just 45 minutes away from the circuit.

“Silverstone is challenging, but it has a really good feeling to it,” Grosjean said. “It’s one of the quickest tracks of the year and as drivers we always like to go fast! There are corners which are legendary like the Magotts, Becketts, Chapel complex.

“It’s quite a feeling going through there and I can’t wait to feel that sensation once more. The whole layout has a really good, fast flow to it and you can really feel your car working hard with the downforce through the fast flowing corners. It’s a happy place to be.

“It’s also a special Grand Prix for the team as the factory is very close to the track. It’s always nice to see not only the race team, but also some of the many people from the factory come to see us out in action.

“It’s thanks to all their hard work that we’re out on track and they are all doing an amazing job, always working so hard. It really does have a feeling of a home event.”

Grosjean was frustrated to retire in Austria due to a gearbox issue, but remains upbeat after completing some test runs during the week following the race at the Red Bull Ring.

“It was a bit of a frustrating one for me,” Grosjean said. “I didn’t finish the race then to add insult to injury, the Austrian weather really mucked me and the team around for the test day!

“My race retirement was tough to take as we should have scored another good tally of points, but it wasn’t to be. The test day was unusual as there was so much rain in the morning, but the conditions changed a lot for the afternoon so we still completed some useful runs.

“Every time we go out with the E23 we learn a little bit more with it, and the car is a pleasure to drive so I will start the Silverstone weekend in a very positive mood.”

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”