The Rise and Fall of Romain's Empire

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
In all my time watching F1 I don't think I've known public opinion change so drastically about a driver than it has about Romain Grosjean. He has gone from promising youngster to nutjob and then from next generation talent to quick midfielder but whats going to happen next for Romain?

Grosjean's junior career started pretty much with success at every turn and he was taken on as Renault test driver and placed in GP2 in 2009. He won the first race of the season and was leading the championship before he was approached by a large Italian man who said to him;

"Hey we've sacked our second driver and we're all about to get in massive trouble for race fixing but we've decided to step you up to the F1 race seat. You'll be complete number 2 to Fernando Alonso and you'll be coming into one of the most complex F1 cars to drive ever without testing. Its your big chance"

The view on Grosjean's short stint as Renault number 2 is that it was pretty awful and that he was a waste of a good race seat. Its true that stint was littered with first lap accidents and getting in peoples way but it wasn't all bad because if you look at some of his qualifying times he was not all that far off the pace of Alonso which was very impressive to say he'd had no time in the car. Come the end of 2009 his rep had been destroyed and the team was completely changing management so his contract wasn't renewed. To rub salt into the wounds Renault took on his team mate from GP2, Petrov, who he had been beating hands down before he left to go to F1. That could very well have been the last we saw of Grosjean and he did go over to Sportscar racing and won a couple of races in a Ford GT1. He switched back to single seater racing later on by driving in Auto GP, where he won the title, and at the end of 2010 though he made the almost unprecedented move of going back to GP2 (Timo Glock is the only other person to step down a level) and instantly jumped in the car and got podiums. Grosjean landed the DAMS drive and dominated the GP2 Championship in 2011 winning it by 34 points (back in the days of 10 points for a win). Grosjean had come full circle back to GP2 ace and up and coming talent but reputations are hard to change when you're not massively in the public eye.

When Grosjean was announced as having landed one of the race seats at the Enstone team it wasn't exactly met with leaps of joy. The majority of people only knew him from his time at the back in 2009 and also as being one of Flavio's favourites. Indeed even one of Clip The Apex's own member, who shall remain nameless but likes to predict the weather, commented that he didn't see the point of Enstone hiring Grosjean when he was probably three quarters of a second slower a lap than new team mate Kimi. So Grosjean had a point to prove and in what was to be a very eventful 2012 season for him. He did turn a few heads with his qualifying times to start with and people started to change their opinion. The general view was that he was quick and just needed to avoid the first lap accidents. Unfortunately the accidents kept coming and once again the general view of him began to change to be seen as somewhat as a menace. The start accident at Spa was the point in which things got pretty bad for Grosjean, much in the way that Maldonado is viewed now, Grosjean was seen as a dangerous driver who didn't know his limits. It was quite obvious it got to him and was certainly playing in his mind when he kept second guessing himself in races later on in the season and just making more mistakes because of it. Enstone showed some faith in him though and his contract was renewed for 2013.

Its still debated on what it was Grosjean changed over the winter between those seasons but whatever it was it obviously worked as when he came back the silly errors and accidents were gone. To start with though so had the speed. For the first half of the 2013 season another member of Clip The Apex was constantly asking "Has anyone seen Grosjean this season?" and it was true that he was pretty anonymous for the first half of the year. That all started to change come mid-season though and the age old phrase "you can teach a fast driver to be safe but you can't teach a safe driver to be fast" seemed to be all the more true. In the second half of 2013 his performances were truly stunning and he was really the only person to push the dominant Red Bull cars. He missed out on a win at Japan just because he was unable to save a fresh pair of tyres in quali and his 2nd place in Texas should not be under estimated. All this and he wasn't even getting paid which he didn't make any comment on in the media unlike his bigger named team mate. Grosjean ended 2013 with high praise for nearly everyone and was held up as shining example as someone who can learn from his mistakes. He was also being held up as one of the great talents for the future.

So what did 2014 bring Grosjean? unfortunately it brought an absolute dog of a car powered by an absolute lawn mower of an engine. Grosjean has now slipped into midfield obscurity through no fault of his own and, just as always in F1, after half a season out of the headlines he's gone from future world champion to midfielder with a bit of speed. He's received praise for his attitude during difficult times as he has not been whining or moaning but just getting on with it, he has torn his team mate a new one performance wise and I don't think we should under estimate how good the drive in Spain was in an awful car when he brought it home 8th on 5 cylinders. The general view now on Clip The Apex? Comments have been made referring to him as Heidfeldesque meaning he is quick but will probably never get a chance in the big teams. Also it was stated recently that he is a very quick driver when he has the right car. Once again opinion on him has swung massively again.

So what next for Grosjean? is he an attractive sign up for another team? Well all his team mates have been race winners, two of them world champions, and he has not looked out of depth with any of them. He appears to have the right attitude as he goes away and works on his errors and he is always popular with the engineers. Also his set up abilities are deemed as being quite high, the engineers from DAMS say they still use his set ups from 2011 as a base line for their GP2 set up at all the tracks even now. So he seems quite an attractive prospect but where might he go? Well he has a prior relationship with Eric Boullier who is now at McLaren so might he be parachuted in their? He and Fernando Alonso have a good relationship (unlike Alonso and Hulkenberg) so might Ferrari take a look at him? The big question though is should Grosjean move at all. Right now the Enstone car is an absolute dog but they are an experienced team and they always go up and down. They now seem to be financially secure, they have Merc engines coming for next year and Grosjean is the out and out number 1 at the team. Should he ride it out and hope it comes back to him at Enstone and risk droopping out of the limelight and missing his chance or should he look to move on?

Whatever he ends up doing there is no question that Grosjean has shown he isn't someone who gives up easily but if you ask me to predict what the general view on him will be this time next year I would have to pass. Hill was from zero to hero, Grosjean has been zero, hero, and all the numbers in between.

So what do we think? Should Grosjean stick or twist on his team choice? Do you have a different view on Grosjean to those above?
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Good Article . Whoever dismissed Grosjean previously as Murray says " Should Eat Humble Pie!":yes:

He's had a tough baptism into F1 with his team for all sorts of reasons outside his control. 2009 was not his fault and certainly the situation with Genii capital making a mess where he is keeping his head down should be admired in such difficult times

2012 was difficult but when every rookie is being compared to the levels of Lewis Hamilton then its understandable.

He showed what he could do in 2013 when the car is working for him. 2014 I am afraid he is a victim of bad mismanagement by Genii capital


Romain should really consider moving teams because otherwise drivers its a missed opportunity..we've seen what happened with Di Resta and Heidfeld when you fail to secure the drive at the right time

He is far too talented to be languishing and fighting for 15th place each race

- Grosjean is better than Heidfeld who really failed to make the most of his opportunities when given
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
No driver has had to face what Grosjean faced in 2009. The two-time world champion in the other car, a team actually banned from his first race until the FIA realised the European Grand Prix was in Spain and not freaking Azerbaijan :facepalm:and with the huge issues of an undrivable car, little prospect of matching his team-mate and no chance of praise if he improved his predecessor's awful form.

Best of all, he was managed by Mr. Subordinate Second Drivers, at least for a while, as the team got dragged through the courts, and then was effectively dissolved at the Singapore Grand Prix. Bloody hell, Perry McCarthy nearly got a better deal!

In the last half of the 2013 season, Grosjean was the :3rd: winner, the only driver to beat a moving Red Bull in the last 5 races of the season. He showed a comparable speed to Raikkonen, to the point of starting to show the Finn a clean pair of heels. To be fair, Grosjean seemed to only lose to Raikkonen at any point at Lotus to the experience he had - not something that is helping him against the Oviedo Bull, I hasten to add.

Grosjean doesn't deserve the Lotus he's got (although Maldonado bloody does). I said in another thread that I think Grosjean will Heidfeld his career away. By that, I am complimenting him, because I have a lot of respect for the unfairly maligned Quick Nick. Heidfeld was magnificent in 2007, he truly was, and he had the talent to get to the top. He was consistent, a great reader of a wet race, a demon in a nearly-champion car, and sometimes scalped a very highly rated team-mate. In essence, he was Jenson Button.

I think Grosjean is of the same ilk as Heidfeld or Button. I don't believe he'll ever get that season he needs of having the best car and a pliant (or, arguably, poor) team-mate for a while, and I don't believe he's quite at the level of say, Alonso (but who is?). However, he's got Championship potential in the right circumstances.

By the way, if you feel Grosjean is having a bad season, you are wrong. 8 points is an excellent return in that car - that is better than Daniil Kvyat actually! The Lotus in danger in Q1 is usually Maldonado. His Team-Mate Prediction score is only worse than Alonso and Ricciardo (and he's 100% more likely to be jumping out of the car by the conclusion).

I have a lot of respect for Grosjean, because he really does grin and bear it. Not all of those first lap collisions in 2012 were his fault.
Maldonado in Melbourne was Maldonado driving like an absolute dick, and I am always very suspicious of the Mark Webber blame deflection school we saw in Suzuka that year. The race ban, in context of Maldonado intentionally driving plain into people, was ludicrous.
In F1, I don't expect that talent = great things (Amon to that) but I do think he has got that Second Tier driver talent that could, given the fair wind, lead to championship status.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
interestingly Grosjean gave his account of both his former teammates - Alonso and Raikkonen ... the only difference was the lack of experience

Alonso - has the ability to able to drive around problems and the Renault car in 2009 was a real handful to drive and he had to apply 3 different driving styles

Raikkonen - needs to feel the front end of the car to have confidence and tends to have to build up his speed towards the weekend. The current Pirelli tyres does not give that feel and confidence in the front end of the car

This may explain Kimi's struggles
 

soccerman17

Race Winner
I think he certainly deserves to keep a midfield seat for a while. Not so sure I would take a chance on him if I were a top team, but he's certainly among the best 22 drivers in the field. I personally think he's quite fast. Gave Kimi a run for his money last year and I think he's getting faster. Consistently beating Maldonado in qualifying this year, sometimes by quite a large margin. I know you all hate Maldonado but you have to remember and admit he is very quick over one lap. Now that I think more about it Grosjean is quite under rated, and maybe just maybe I would give him a chance in a top team.
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
To be fair to Romain about his crash in Hungary, it can very tricky to maiintain temperatures at slow speed on a humid track. I have seen Prost, Berger, Coulthard spinning off the road on parade laps before...
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
I wouldn't describe it as a push.

I think Mclaren could do far worse and I'm sure Grosjean coming back to work with Boullier would work out well.

Eric pretty much said Button would def be in for 2015 the other week though.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
RasputinLives Some people seem to think Button will be not at Mclaren next sesson though and Romain is wasted at Lotus and really does not have any leverage now with no Bouiller, Renault engines and Total fuel going at the team
 

soccerman17

Race Winner
Not the worst move they can make. Not sure if Grosjean is better now than Button but he's not too far off and has more of a future in front of him.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
i think people have overlooked how his career could have been almost ruined by Flavio

part of the Renault / Flavio stable along with Di Grassi

he was used as a pawn to pressurise Nelsinho and when he got the drive it was under the most unhappy circumstances and we know why afterwards

Nelsinho got his revenge getting Flavio banned from F1 which also included not being able to manage Grosjean.

So Grosjean was in the team that his ex boss bought disgrace and shame upon and he had to fend for himself for a while. Thank fully Bouillier took him under his wing and has managed to help restore his reputation even through difficult times
 
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