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GP Week : Issue 191
continued ... But a similar situation to last year, when you were confirmed pretty late on in the year for this season. In terms of the way the negotiations are going with the team, would you say the negotiations this year have been more positive compared to last year? I would say that if they trusted me last year to stay with the team, it should be alright this year. How big a loss is Kimi for the team next year? It’s a crucial year and he’s an experienced driver. He’s an experienced driver, so it’s a big loss. But no, I have two years’ experience in Formula One alongside him. We’re doing a good job with the team and you know there are a lot of changes in the regulations, but it’s mainly engineering things. If you have a good car, it’s easy to make it go quicker and sometimes if it’s a bad car, even with an experienced driver it’s hard to get it back on track. So I have no worries. I know the tracks, I know the championship, I know the team. It should be alright. so you’re all set to step into the lead role should the need arise? I like to be a leader in a team. It’s a pretty good feeling. So you know, I’m not trying to be, just trying to do my best as I’ve been doing all year long and things will naturally come. Two names have been mentioned as the strongest candidates to be your teammate next season. One is Nico Hulkenberg, the other is Felipe Massa. Now with Nico, he’s obviously shown impressive speed but he’s probably not as experienced as Felipe. With Felipe, the form has been inconsistent but he has the experience that could prove crucial next year. I know it’s not your decision but who would you prefer? I don’t really care. Felipe could give me advice on the baby! Nico, we have been teammates in 2007 in Formula 3 so we know each other from the past, but I do my job and there will be more talk with my teammate next year for sure than I had in the last two years. There have been some high-profile departures from the team apart from Kimi. You’ve got James Allison who moved, Dirk de Beer who recently moved. Is that in any way going to compromise next year’s challenge, next year’s campaign? I don’t think so. Next year is already on the wheels and going for ward. We have got as well an engineer from Ferrari who will be joining the factory. In Formula One there is always a turnaround; I’m sure this team is looking to get some more good people but we have everything at the factory to be able to have good cars and I’m sure we’ll get some more people coming. Another difficult question, if I may. Financial difficulties at the team very well reported in the press. Is that a concern? The team has signed a sponsorship deal with emaar and has been working to finalise a deal with Infinity. But the resource crunch this year – has that had an impact on how much you’ve been able to divert to next year’s car this year? I don’t know. Honestly, that’s not an answer I can answer. I don’t have the answer. So far what we are showing on track is what is the truth. The car is still there. It started the season well. Three-quarters of the season is done and, the car is still good. The team is moving for ward and I think with everything we have been working for next year, it shouldn’t be a problem and I am sure everything will be sorted soon. Kimi said the only reason he left the team was financial. Are you seeking any sort of financial guarantees from the team for next season? I’m happy and I don’t really care for all this. Things are okay. You’ve worked with both Kimi and Fernando. Your first half-season in Formula One was alongside Fernando. People say they are as different as fire and ice. How different is it working with the both of them? They are very different characters. They have a lot in common as well. It was tough for me every time to have a world champion as a teammate, but if you can beat him then it shows that you are able to win a championship one day. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do and achieving recently. Who is easier to work with, though? Because in the first year I think you felt Renault did not give you full support because Fernando was in the team? I think it’s two different situations. I came the first year, it was in the middle of the season and it wasn’t the easiest way to step up to Formula One. But who’s easier to work with? They’re both more similar. Do you foresee an explosive partnership? Because a lot of drivers, including Felipe who has also worked with the both of them, are saying ... I don’t know. They are two champions. The future will tell us! In terms of your target for the rest of the season – I’m sure you’re itching for that first win. That would be nice. That would be fantastic. We need to keep working as we are right now trying to do our best, achieve what we can and hopefully it will come. Just a thought on the 2014 rules. Are you excited by the challenge or are you not a big fan of the conservation formula we seem to be heading towards next year? Well, honestly, I need to drive the car to give you the answer. It’s always a risk when you change the regulations, but maybe we are all going to be very happily surprised. It’s good technology – we’re going to use a lot of hybrid technology with a strong KERS and very little fuel consumption. I think everything we can try to, we need to be a technology leader and that’s where we are heading to. Have you heard the engines on the dyno yet? Yeah. For sure it’s not a V12, it’s not a V10, it’s not a V8 either, but things will improve. But the sound is still exciting enough, you think, to... The sound is important and I’m sure we’ll be happily surprised. Kimi is a long way back in the championship and he’s off next year. You’re most likely going to be here next year, so are you increasingly pushing the team to divert more and more resource to 2014? I think they did it already. They are a very experienced team. They’ve won three world championships and they know what they have to do for the future. Every year in the past three years they built a very good car to start the season and I think it’s a long time now that we have been working on 2014 so I trust them to give me a good car with the new regulations. Last question. A tricky one to end it. But in terms of the salary, you have been paid on time this year? Everything is okay with Gravity... Is Total covering your salary or is it the team? It’s the team. And everything is alright? Yeah. 5 MINUTES WITH ROMAIN GROSjEAN 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: