Grosjean deserves his second chance

By on Friday, December 9, 2011

Grosjean is deserving of a second chance to prove himself

The announcement confirming Romain Grosjean’s return to F1 with Lotus wasn't a huge surprise, although it raised some criticism from fans about the direction of the team. Several question why the team now has two drivers who haven’t raced in F1 since the end of 2009, ousted their previous two drivers and now have one who was seemingly hopeless and is managed by the team boss.

However, Romain Grosjean is the right man for Lotus.

Grosjean perhaps faced one of the most difficult situations a rookie could encounter when he stepped into the Renault R29 for the 2009 European Grand Prix. The R29 was an utterly terrible car. Added to that, Grosjean had to get used to a car he had never driven before with devices such as KERS. You only have to look at the difficulties Giancarlo Fisichella and Luca Badoer had in the Ferrari F60 to understand Grosjean’s problems. Grosjean’s team mate was none other than Fernando Alonso. You only have to look at how Felipe Massa has fared next to the Spaniard to see what a difficult job it is being alongside the double champion. Then came the whole Crashgate scandal and a team that nearly collapsed. Grosjean did not cover himself with glory with a couple of errors, but there was one presiding aspect of his 2009 season that left a sour taste in the mouth: his attitude.

2009 was not a happy time for Romain Grosjean...

Having been impressive in junior formulae, Formula One seemed a given in 2010 for the Frenchman. However, his chance came earlier than expected and he grabbed it with both hands. He believed he could do a better job than Nelson Piquet Jr and had a cocky nature about him. It was as if he had made it and he knew it. Renault engineers were not impressed by his attitude and he was subsequently dropped, not just as a race driver, but as a part of the team. Having been part of the team for two years and naturally viewed as the man to lead Renault’s revival, it was a monumental blow.

Here he was – supposedly one of the finest young drivers of his generation – being overlooked for a seat in 2010 because of seven disastrous races. Unfair? Possibly. But then he changed. He realised that if he hadn’t made it in 2010, something must have been going wrong.

He moved to the GT1 World Championship at the start of 2010 and won a couple of races. A return to Single Seaters beckoned when he raced in AutoGP for DAMS from Round 3 of the championship. He won several races and claimed the title.

GP2 Champion in 2011

Mid-2010 Grosjean moved back to GP2 with DAMS. The French squad was in crisis: 10th in the championship and without a title for more than a decade. Grosjean arrived and applied some leadership in the team, narrowly losing out to team mate Jerome d’Ambrosio, despite starting in less than half the races.

2011 didn’t start particularly well. The first race may have resulted in a win, but after the Valencia round, he was under fire for causing a crash at the start of the race. Grosjean responded and steamrollered his opposition to win the championship by the biggest margin in GP2 history. The Frenchman impressed DAMS engineers with his approach, positive atmosphere and the way he turned the car around. He was friendly with those in the paddock and was determined to help his team mate qualify higher up the grid, as it was a sign of his good work.

A return to F1 beckoned when Renault confirmed he would drive in free practice in the final two rounds. He had to work with the same mechanics with whom he had not impressed two seasons previously. However, he showed strong pace and worked well with the team.

Grosjean’s transformation has been completed and two seasons in the F1 wilderness has served him well both as a racing driver and a person. Going up alongside Kimi Raikkonen is a good barometer for him and beating the Finn will serve him well.

Yet people are still unwilling to give Grosjean the recognition he warrants as a man who deserves to be given a full season in a Formula One car.

Maybe it’s because he works in a bank?

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