Romain Grosjean is confident he will be much stronger in the 2013 Formula 1 season if he is given a new deal by his Lotus team.
The Frenchman was signed to partner Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus in 2012 and had a promising start to the year despite some early incidents. He was a good match to Raikkonen on speed, beating him 10-9 in qualifying, and finished on the podium three times.
The second half of the season was hard for Grosjean as he was involved in several accidents and received a one-race ban for his instigation of the crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Lotus is expected to decide Grosjean's future soon, but the 26-year-old believes he is capable of repaying the team's faith if he is given the chance next year.
"I hope much stronger," said Grosjean about how he expects to performed in 2013. "Normally, it is one year to learning, two years to win, but in Formula 1 it is a bit different. It's hard to say how much stronger you are because all these things you digest over the winter, and restart with winter testing... we know where to start, what to test, what to improve.
"There are ups and downs, but I think this year has been mainly 10,000 more things I've learned than in the past."
Grosjean made his grand prix debut with Renault when he replaced Nelson Piquet Jr. from the 2009 European Grand Prix. He endured a tough few races before returning to GP2 in the middle of the 2010 season, which he had started by competing in GT racing. The French driver feels his performances this year have revised the perception people had of him based on his 2009 form.
"I think it started with the third place on the grid in Melbourne and then we had some podiums and the atmosphere inside myself and everything in the team has been working very well. I like working with all the guys," he said.
The Lotus driver also said he had been faster than he had predicted given his lack of experience.
"I think we were quicker than I was expecting. There have been some lows, but I think they helped me improve myself and I think the last four races have been interesting. So I feel much better than I did at the beginning of the season. I've been learning a lot, I'm still learning and improving myself a lot as well."
OPINION: Give him another chance
- AUTOSPORT F1 editor Edd Straw
Lotus would be mad to cast off Romain Grosjean now. While he made too many mistakes in 2012 and there are very serious questions over his ability to assess risk while on track, he is simply too fast to be discarded.
Some argue he's already had his second chance. But the circumstances in 2009, when he raced alongside Fernando Alonso at Renault for half a season, were impossible. This year was his real rookie season and it's too often overlooked that he won the qualifying battle against World Champion teammate Kimi Raikkonen and finished on the podium three times.
If the mistakes carry on next year, then the situation would be different and he would have to be considered beyond help. But when you have a guy capable of being this fast – by which I mean as fast as anyone on the grid – it's essential to leave no stone unturned in harnessing his potential. A serious F1 team cannot afford to cast away such promise so soon.
Lotus is an ambitious team with some seriously good personnel. While they have been frustrated by Grosjean at times, everyone in a race team loves to see a driver who extracts the maximum speed from the car.
Taking a conservative second driver as a solid points banker over a potential superstar – and Grosjean really is fast enough to be just that if he can calm down – would be a disappointingly conservative step for a team that considers itself ambitious, creative and upwardly mobile.