October 27th, 2913 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Romain Grosjean scored his third consecutive podium and fifth of the 2013 season by finishing third in the Indian Grand Prix. Impressively, he achieved this strong result from as far back as 17th on the grid after a difficult qualifying session on Saturday.
Grosjean was as surprised as anyone about his podium finish, and said afterwards, “If you had told me yesterday that I’d be on the podium here I would have said you were crazy!"
He described his race: "Straight from the beginning of the race I felt very comfortable on the option tyres and we looked in pretty good shape, then we fitted the mediums and the car was really quick. I lost quite a lot of time behind [Esteban] Gutierrez which maybe cost us the fight for second, but we managed to come back from that well.
"When I saw that I was fourth in front of [Felipe] Massa with 27 laps to go I knew it was going to be close with him as we had to take care of the tyres, plus we had an engine issue at the end of the race which made things quite tricky. In the final laps Kimi was really struggling with his tyres so I managed to pass him and luckily had enough pace to keep Felipe behind.
"Before the race our best prediction was fourth if we had a strong start and a perfect race, so it was an amazing result and a great performance from the team.”
Grosjean's team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, looked set for a podium finish until he lost tyre performance in the final few laps of the race. Although Raikkonen tried to defend against Grosjean when the Frenchman caught him in the closing stages of the race, the difference in tyre performance between the two cars was so great that there was no chance of holding Grosjean behind. Raikkonen's reluctance to let his team-mate through roused the irritation of his team, who chastised him on the radio.
Raikkonen made a pit stop at the start of the penultimate lap, as his tyres were completely worn out by that point and he had enough of a gap to eighth place to get in and out of the pits without losing position. He emerged from the pits in seventh place and then annihilated the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, going half a second quicker than race winner Sebastian Vettel had managed.
Raikkonen described his tough afternoon:
“We ran maybe the first twenty laps with no brakes as they had overheated massively, so every time I got close to somebody I lost braking. At the end of the race I ran out of tyre performance too so it’s been a pretty disappointing day. I knew the tyres would drop off quite quickly, but there wasn’t much to lose between trying to get to the end and making an extra pit stop in terms of time lost. In the end it didn’t work.”
Raikkonen is currently third in the Drivers' Championship, 24 points behind Fernando Alonso. It's unlikely that Raikkonen will make up a deficit that large in the remaining three races of the season, but it is certainly possible. He will no doubt be giving his all to beat the man who will be his team-mate at Ferrari next year.
Grosjean has now equaled Felipe Massa's points tally of 102, and is lying 7th in the Drivers' Championship. In sixth place is Nico Rosberg on 144 points. It seems virtually impossible that Grosjean could make up 42 points in just three races, but his recent form suggests that he is likely to at least close the gap by the end of the season.