Sunday, January 20, 2013

Romain Grosjean – More than just a First-lap Failure

Fans have serious spite for the Frenchman ever since he took out Alonso in Spa last year .
In a totally sane dimension, had Romain Grosjean not tried that overly ambitious move in Spa, five car would have made it cleanly beyond the first corner, he would have been racing in Monza and Fernando Alonso would have been partying in Sao Paulo with his world championship.

In a sport labelled as entertainment in India, sanity is vital as a new set of threaded tyres, and according to the Swiss’ fellow racers, Grosjean lacked a little portion of it. Romain Grosjean would perhaps go down as the most destructive driver in motorsport this year, with only a certain Pastor Maldonado as competition.

But before all the bulldozing, before all the drive-through penalties, and certainly before Spa, Grosjean was a racer brimming with expectation. The 2012 Formula 1 season erased a quite a bit of success that catapulted him to a podium snatcher and a potential championship in the seasons ahead. With racing being banned in his birth country, Grosjean’s family took the trip to neighbouring France from Geneva to accommodate Romain’s passion for circuit racing. His rise was evident when he won the 2003 Swiss Formula Renault series with ten wins from as many starts. He then moved to French Formula Renault and was seventh in 2004 and champion in 2005.

In a technically demanding F3 circuit in Macau, Grosjean impressed with a 9th place finish from the back of the grid. Unfortunately apart from his 2006 Macau debut and a rare podium in Germany, Grosjean had scanty to show for his efforts. A move to champions ASM steered him to the championship in 2007 and a contract as Renault test-driver for the upcoming season.
Over the winter of 2007/8, he became the inaugural GP2 Asia champion for ART, winning four times and beating current Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi in the process. He stayed with ART for the GP2 main series in 2008 before switching to the Addax team for 2009.

Renault’s was in shambles in that year. Team principal Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were expelled after the details of Piquet’s deliberate crash to help Alonso win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix had been exposed. Piquet was sacked and Grosjean had literally abandoned his cockpit for Addax to race in place of the Crashgate Casualty at Valencia. Formula One was anything but kind to Grosjean that year. He didn’t finish higher than 12th while (ironically) team-mate Alonso conjured miracles with an average car to seize 5 podiums. An identical crash to Piquet’s in Singapore left him red-faced before he was dropped for the 2010 season.

GP2 was where he found home and recognition. Champion in 2011 with 3 races to go, cemented his place alongside the returning Ice-man, Raikonnen at the newly named Lotus-Renault for 2012. With three podiums he managed to grab quite the attention, but not as much for being coined a ‘First-lap Nutcase’ by Mark Webber.

In another dimension, Grosjean would perhaps been a force to reckon with, and who knows, he still might be. However, in this world, you might just want to steer clear when you see a car painted ‘Grosjean’ zoomed past.    

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