Romain Grosjean says new tyres not central to his improved form at Hungarian GP
In-form Lotus driver says feeling with E21 just "getting better"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 27/07/13 5:02pm
On the back of his strongest drive of the season at the Nurburgring, when he challenged Sebastian Vettel for victory before having to heed second place to team leader Kimi Raikkonen, Grosjean has been among the pacesetters throughout the Hungaroring weekend and on Saturday afternoon delivered his first top-three qualifying spot since last year's corresponding race.
Raikkonen, in contrast, could manage only sixth, in a best time over two tenths of a second slower than the sister Lotus, but Grosjean wasn't putting the turnaround in intra-team fortunes down to Pirelli's revised tyres, rather his improved harmony with the E21.
Asked if the change to 2012 structures and compounds had given him an advantage over Raikkonen, Grosjean replied: "No, I don't think it is.
"I think in Silverstone and Nurburgring we were very competitive and to be honest I haven't really found exactly the same feeling as I had last year with the tyres.
"We are just doing a good job with the car. We struggled at the beginning of the year - it's not a secret - with mapping and stuff like that but since then we've found what I need to bring the car where I want to and it's getting better and better.
"I don't think those tyres have changed massively the deal."
Friday had represented Grosjean's first chance to sample the new-look tyres after Lotus had used neither of their race drivers at last week's Silverstone test and the former GP2 Champion says he has been pleased with how his work understanding the rubber has gone.
He now hopes Lotus's renowned tyre-wear strengths can play into his hands across what is set to be a demanding 70-lap race on Sunday.
"It has been a good weekend so far trying to get on top of the new tyres and we did pretty well," Grosjean told Sky Sports F1.
"It's not always perfect but we're getting there and we have a strong baseline since Bahrain where we keep working hard and improving ourselves. Today is a good result for the team and myself. Tomorrow is going to be hot and very long so we need good tyre degradation and then we can do our best."
With polesitter Lewis Hamilton having already admitted it will be a "miracle" if Mercedes can convert pole into race victory, the battle for the final win before the summer break could, initially at least, be a repeat of the Nurburgring race when Grosjean hunted down Vettel.
The Lotus man certainly isn't ruling out the prospect of taking his first win at the top level: "Well, I think it's open, but we'll see that in the race. I'm going to give my best, as always, and then after 70 laps we'll see."