Romain Grosjean talks with his team prior to qualifying. (Photo: Getty Images)

talks with his team prior to qualifying. (Photo: Getty Images)

Romain Grosjean, who has matured from an impetuous racer into a regular podium contender, can blame firm tires rather than loose driving for his woes in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix.

Grosjean will start from 17th on the grid Sunday after Lotus’ gamble on sticking with medium tires backfired in the first qualifying session Saturday.

The Frenchman was philosophical about the decision and is still hopeful of challenging for a podium finish — if not the Red Bulls — to boost his team in its battle for second place in the constructors’ title.

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“If we never try anything, then you never get anything, so we maybe misjudged a little bit today but I was part of the decision and I more or less thought it would be OK,” Grosjean said. “We just got surprised by those tires, which is often done.”

Grosjean, who finished third at the previous GP in Japan, remained on pace throughout the Indian practice sessions, posting the third fastest time Friday behind Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

“It’s not good for the team’s constructor (title hopes) and it’s clearly not what we were expecting,” Grosjean said, adding he has the ability to work his way back in the race. “I’ve proven I’m able to do it and I’ve had some very strong races.

“We’ll try to get the best strategy we can. … Go for maximum attack in the first few laps and try to get some places.”

Tire supplier Pirelli has brought medium and softer compound tires to India. While the softer tire is faster, the teams have complained of its lack of durability.

Teammate Kimi Raikkonen qualified sixth on soft tires and Grosjean said the team’s strategy was to switch him to the softer compound for second, third and final qualifying sessions.

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