Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean

PROFILE

Born in Geneva to a Swiss father and a French mother, Grosjean was a relatively late starter to the world of motorsport, first karting aged 14. However, he was soon up to speed and three years later he moved into Formula Renault where six victories in his rookie season secured him the Swiss championship.

After winning the French Formula Renault championship in 2005, his performances in Formula Three were enough to impress Renault, who signed him up to their driver development programme in 2006. He graduated to Formula Three where he won the European title in his second season ahead of Sebastien Buemi. In 2008 he moved into GP2, winning the Asia series alongside testing for Renault in F1.

In 2008 he became Renault’s official test driver following Nelson Piquet Jr’s promotion to partner Fernando Alonso in the race seat. However, when Renault dismissed Piquet midway through the season, Grosjean was promoted and made his F1 debut in August at the European Grand Prix.

His 15th place didn’t set the world alight and his best result over the rest of the season came in Brazil where he finished 13th. On his fourth race at the Singapore Grand Prix, Grosjean crashed in practice at the same corner where his former team-mate Piquet Jr had deliberately crashed the previous year.

It was embarrassing for all concerned and in 2010 Renault made a fresh break with new owners, management and drivers. Grosjean was left in the wilderness and took up a drive in the new FIA GT1 championship driving a Ford GT. He shined in the class, winning two races early in the season with co-driver Thomas Mutsch.

He switched back to single seaters midway through the season and drove in Auto GP (formerly F3000), taking the championship despite only competing in two thirds of the events. He also made a return to GP2 with DAMS and finished on the podium twice at four race meetings.

In 2011 he was offered a full drive at DAMS in GP2 and was appointed as one of Renault’s ‘third drivers’. He took the title with three races remaining before driving for Renault in Friday practice at the final two rounds of the season, impressing enough to be given a second chance in F1 as Kimi Raikkonen’s team-mate at the newly-branded Lotus team.

His return to F1 saw flashes of brilliance and three podium finishes, but it was also tainted by a series of first-lap incidents. The worst was at Spa-Francorchamps where he took out Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and the two Saubers in a crash that could have had very serious consequences. The stewards banned him for the following event in Italy and he was under pressure for the remainder of the season to stay out of trouble.

Nevertheless, Lotus kept the faith with Grosjean for 2015 and after a cautious start by mid-season he was showing real signs of consistency. Suddenly, where he was a liability on the opening lap he started making up positions and after highly impressive races in Germany and Hungary he went on a run of three consecutive podiums from Korea onwards. Fourth in Abu Dhabi ended the run before perhaps his finest race to second in Austin – splitting the dominant Red Bulls and holding off Webber in the latter stages.

Grosjean’s improvement makes him a real candidate for race wins in 2015 given the right car, but he will have to take on the mantle of team leader too after Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari.

Strengths and Weaknesses
While most budding F1 champions begin their karting careers as young as five, Grosjean was told by his father he could not start racing until his grades improved at school. His composure at the top level still leaves a lot to be desired. He collided with Ferrari’s Luca Badoer on the opening lap of his debut race, and then just a week later at Spa hit Jenson Button, causing them both to retire.

Career High 
In 2009, Grosjean was enjoying a strong second season in GP2, challenging rival Nico Hulkenberg for the title before receiving his F1 call-up in August to replace Piquet at Renault.

Career Low
Being banned from the 2012 Italian Grand Prix after causing a nasty accident at the previous race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Quotes
“Being a Formula One driver has always been my dream and each time I get in the car still feels very special.”

“We haven’t given him a particularly good car and that is equally hard for a young driver to come in. So it hasn’t been an easy birth for him in Formula One but that doesn’t deny that he’s got a lot of talent and I’m very sure that in the future we will see that talent exploited.” Renault team principal Bob Bell.

Trivia 
Despite enjoying the glitz and glamour of life as an F1 driver, in recent years Grosjean has worked part-time in a bank in Geneva.

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