Pre-season title favorite Lucas di Grassi is confident that he can overcome the disadvantage of a zero score in the opening rounds of the GP2 Series in Spain.
Having come close to beating Timo Glock to the 2007 championship, then finished third in the standings last year despite having missed six races, di Grassi was expected to be the benchmark in this year's series – especially as he had joined the Racing Engineering team that took Giorgio Pantano to last season's crown. But after qualifying on the front row in Spain, di Grassi fell back in the feature race and was taken out in a tangle with Alvaro Parente that ended with the Ocean car perched atop di Grassi's cockpit. The Brazilian was unhurt in the accident, but could only come through to 10th on Sunday.
With his main rival Romain Grosjean taking a victory and a second place, di Grassi is already 18 points adrift in the championship.
"Now Grosjean is leading by 18 points, it's a big, big difference to zero but there are still nine weekends to go," di Grassi told AUTOSPORT. "There are still 18 races. Last year I managed to finish in the top three and I didn't even start until the seventh race.
"The aim this year again is to come back at Monaco, try to win it – and then try to win every single race until the end of the year and everything will be fine!"
He said the team now understood why he had been so slow in race trim on Saturday.
"We did a couple of mistakes in the setup that led us to a very, very slow pace," di Grassi explained. "The tire completely finished itself; there was no more rubber at all. You could see the tread coming out of the tire, just because of high wear.
"Every time I put my foot on the brake, the wheel would lock. It was not a braking issue. It was just because of tire wear; it was how bad the tire was. It is difficult to understand why, so we tried to analyze it. There were a couple of small errors in the setup that led into this, and (on Sunday) we came back and started 18th and finished 10th.
"We basically did the same thing, just without the mistakes that we did on Saturday and it looked much better. We managed to find the one thing that caused that excessive wear yesterday. So we modified it and made it better."