Oct 6, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has said that he was not surprised to see both of his drivers finish on the podium in Korea, believing that the result reflects that pace of the E21 car.
Having started third, Grosjean ran in P2 for the majority of the race before eventually finishing third behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen who had jumped up the order thanks to the safety car periods.
Speaking to NBC’s Will Buxton, Boullier said: “I don’t want to be arrogant but we were expecting Romain to be on the podium and Kimi to catch up in the top six, so obviously the safety car helped Kimi.
“But with the pace of the car, it should be on the podium.”
After becoming embroiled in a battle with Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber for fifth, Raikkonen pitted early in an attempt to exploit the undercut and make up the positions. The safety car period allowed him to do this as well as preserving his tires and allowing him to go to the end of the race.
Romain Grosjean had been Vettel’s closest challenger, but a mistake on the restart following the first safety car period allowed Raikkonen to pass. Despite asking to be given the position back, Grosjean was told that he had to race Raikkonen for the place and he eventually finished just half a second behind his teammate.
“I think he [Grosjean] was a bit disappointed because he made one mistake on the restart from the safety car, and Kimi used the opportunity to pass him,” Boullier explained. “I think he was trying to get some help to pass back Kimi but we said “you are racing Kimi”.
“He was allowed to race but he couldn’t and I think he was a bit upset about having lost his position to Kimi.”
Grosjean will remain with Lotus in 2014, and performances such as this will prove that he can lead the team in the post-Raikkonen era as the Finn prepares to return to Ferrari for next season. His replacement is still to be announced, but Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa are thought to be the two prime candidates.