Romain Grosjean says he’s “very proud” of the recovery achieved by Lotus after he bounced back from a torrid FP3 to qualify 10th ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Frenchman experienced a tough start to his Saturday when he languished down in 18th at the end of the third free practice, but fought back in fine style after sunset to extend his perfect Q3 record this year.
Riding on the crest of his maiden 2015 points finish, Grosjean had traveled to Sakhir looking upward and with a view to competing with the likes of Williams and Red Bull.
Having made way for reserve driver Jolyon Palmer in FP1, the 29-year-old finished a low-key 13th during the Friday night session before Saturday afternoon proved even trickier.
This prompted Lotus to make some modifications on Grosjean’s E23 Hybrid, which enabled the nine-time podium finisher to eventually turn things around. Still, the Frenchman had little expectations and was all the more impressed by the end result and his team's recovery.
“We really struggled to understand what was going on in the car until the qualifying,” Grosjean told F1i. “We knew something was wrong, but we did not have much path to change everything.
“Eventually, we changed a part on the rear end of the car, coming back to a previous spec that Pastor used in China. I was using the new one. We could not see really a big difference but it works very well, the car felt massively different.
“I’m generally very proud of the guys because they’ve done a goob job. I did not think we would make it to Q2 to be fair. This morning was so bad that Q2 was not achievable.”
Quizzed on his hopes for Sunday’s race at Sakhir, Grosjean reckons he can repeat a similar performance to China and emerge as best of the rest behind the three fastest teams.
“I hope (the car) stays consistent and nice. The two Renault cars in front of us have less top speed so hopefully we can overtake them quite quickly.
“The Force India is going to be quick on a straight line. Hulkenberg did a good job. So let’s see if we can fight with him and then yeah… that’s where we are.”
(Williams) are too far ahead, for now they are.”