How do you solve a problem like Romain?

Romain Grosjean
© James Moy Photography

He was the last one out. Dressed not in race overalls but team kit, Romain Grosjean faced the press after the Japanese Grand Prix, another race in which he’d been involved in controversy and a first lap crash. The questions came at him thick and fast, and the Frenchman tried his best to maintain a level of calm, to look unflustered, unaffected. But as he stepped from camera to camera, the illusion dropped. His eyes moistened, the speed of his blinking increased, his voice wavered, as all the while he tried to bottle up the emotions trying to scream their way out. By the time he got to the Sky Sports crew, many fans reported that his interview was difficult to watch.

Romain Grosjean has been branded a “first lap nutcase” by Mark Webber. Sticks and stones, you may say, but accusations like that stick and they hurt. Especially when the person being labelled as such has just returned from the first F1 ban for dangerous driving in almost two decades.

I don’t believe Romain is a danger. I don’t believe he is a nutcase. I don’t believe he deserves half of the grief he is getting right now. And come 3pm Korean time this afternoon, when he is thrown to the lions in the FIA Press Conference, I don’t believe he will deserve the standard of questioning nor the levels of vitriol which I fear will be levelled at him.

Romain Grosjean is a multiple champion. He has a better CV in the run up to his F1 career than almost any other driver on the current F1 grid. He amassed a total of six titles in his junior career in Formula Renault, Formula 3, Auto GP, GP2 Asia and the GP2 Series. He marked a name out for himself as a bold driver, blessed with phenomenal speed and natural ability.

I’ll be honest, there were times in his junior career when I questioned his overall awareness. I believed for sometime that he could win from the front, lead from pole, but that when it came to fighting his way through the field he involved himself in unnecessary and silly accidents.

What a difference a year makes…
Romain Grosjean, GP2, Spa 2011
© GP2 Media Service

But that was the old Romain. The V2 which was developed after his brief initial foray into F1 was far more complete a racer. The Romain Grosjean who turned up and demolished the GP2 Asia and GP2 Main Series championships in 2011 was a completely different beast. He could lead from the front, but he could pass majestically. He was, by all accounts, ready for the next step.

And, on balance, I think he has handled himself well this season. He sits eighth in the world championship with three podiums to his name. But while the world heaps plaudits on Sergio Perez, who has also achieved three unexpected podiums this season and sits two places further down the championship than Grosjean, the Frenchman is lambasted.

He is decried for his first lap incidents this season. But how many have been of his making? Let’s run through them.

Melbourne: Grosjean and Maldonado run side by side through Turn 13. Grosjean, to my mind, takes as much evasive action as he can. Coming through the right hander side by side, with Maldonado on the inside, he takes to the rumble strips to avoid Maldonado who keeps on coming, using all the track and even taking the rumble strip as well. His rear left hits Grosjean’s front right, breaking the suspension. In that case, I don’t see how Grosjean could have done any more to have kept out of the Venezuelan’s path. He heeded position and even ran off track so as to avoid contact.

Malaysia: In the pouring rain and spray, Grosjean and Schumacher make contact. It’s a close run thing, as again they are side by side, and although Grosjean initially insisted t was Schumacher that was at fault, the more times you watch the replay, the more it is clear that it is the position of Grosjean’s Lotus that tags the rear right of Schumacher and spins the German.

Barcelona: Sergio Perez runs side by side with Grosjean through Turns 1 and 2 on the first lap. Perez gets a good run through T2, but as the duo exit, there is contact between the Mexican and Grosjean. In this instance, I believe it is Romain who is on the racing line. Perez executes a nice move around the outside and gets a good drive out of the corner, but moves back onto the racing line just a shade too early, knocking Grosjean’s front wing and picking up a puncture. In this case, a racing incident.

Monaco race start 2012
© James Moy Photography

Monaco: Grosjean makes a poor start and finds himself with Fernando Alonso on his right hand side. This moves Grosjean to the left. The run down to St Devote sees the barriers on the left pull in at the end of the straight, and it is well known that you cannot attempt to take anyone around the outside on that run. There is a racing line and an inside line. The outside line simply doesn’t exist. And yet Michael Schumacher finds himself in precisely that position, on the outside of Grosjean. Rather than backing out of the move, Michael keeps his foot in, and his front right connects with Grosjean’s rear left, spinning the Frenchman in front of the field. For me, the fault in that instance lies with Schumacher.

Silverstone: Very similar to Spain, this one. As the cars pull through The Loop, the two Force Indias are on the inside of Grosjean. The Frenchman’s Lotus is on the racing line, and never wavers as they approach Aintree. Di Resta has a better drive out of The Loop and pulls in front of Grosjean just a touch too early, hitting the front wing of the Lotus and damaging his own rear right tyre. As I said, for me it is shades of Perez in Barcelona. A racing incident.

Spa: What can you say? It was silly. So silly. That move alone demanded a race ban, and Grosjean accepted culpability and accepted his punishment.

Spa startline crash 2012
© James Moy Photography

And so to Japan… and this is one I’ve had to watch back over and over to really get my head around. Grosjean is running side by side with Perez and has his eye set firmly on the Mexican. He makes the move, makes it stick, but then has Webber turning in ahead of him and connects with the Red Bull. Perhaps the fight with Perez had unsighted Grosjean as to Webber’s position. But it has been argued, and not without some merit, that Webber’s position and speed was far from usual at that part of the corner. But Grosjean was the one fighting to make up positions, and the onus is on him to make a clean move. At that moment, when he hits Webber, the responsibility is his even though Webber may have been running a touch slower than expected.

So this first lap “nutcase.” Is he really such a nightmare? Out of all the incidents he has been involved with, I could only say that he holds ultimate responsibility in three of them: Malaysia, Spa and Japan. The others are either simply racing incidents or it is Grosjean who is the victim.

This is only my opinion. But having watched the incidents back countless times, this is what I believe.

The sad thing is, many people simply look at the stats. Seven first lap contacts (Melbourne was actually Lap 2 if we’re being picky) make Romain Grosjean a danger to himself and his fellow drivers.

The reality however is somewhat different.

The problem now is in how he deals with this. He has picked up a reputation which I do not feel he deserves, but it will stick with him. Does Mark Webber really think he is a “nutcase?” I don’t think so. But just as Mark once ripped a young Sebastian Vettel a new one after he took him out in Fuji, so Mark has given this latest hotshoe and few choice words to chew on. We can only hope that Romain uses those words for the same motivation as did the young Mr Vettel.

And let’s not forget that a few seasons ago, that young Mr Vettel was branded “The crash kid” by Martin Whitmarsh. That crash kid went and won the next two world championships.

Focussed and Determined
© James Moy Photography

My fear though is that Romain is a highly emotional soul. He will take those words to heart, just as he took the ban to heart. The historical significance of the ban will not have been lost on him. He will take the words of his fellow drivers to heart in this weekend’s driver briefing. And he will take whatever is thrown at him in today’s press conference to heart, too.

I wonder which Romain will arrive in front of the cameras after the press conference. I hope, beyond hope, that it is not the same Romain we saw after the race in Japan. The Romain with reddened eyes, fearing for his future, trying desperately not to allow himself to cry.

Romain Grosjean has already felt the pain of having his dream taken away from him. It happened at the end of 2009. Since that time he has worked tirelessly to get the second chance that his incredible talent deserves. And today he can only watch as that second chance gets tainted with a reputation that he does not deserve. He can see it all slipping away, and the fear of that feeling of loss that he suffered three years ago can now only cloud everything that he does.

It’s time we had a bit of perspective here and actually look at what he’s done wrong this year, because with the exception of Spa, it’s really not been all that grave. Come 3pm, when he’s thrown to the lions, I hope the people in this media centre will have sight of the bigger picture. I hope people in this paddock will give the kid a break and let him get on with what he does.

Because, my God. That boy can race.

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55 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like Romain?

  1. Well thanks Will for your perspective. From everything else I’ve read and heard, I was convinced that he was in over his head and a genuine hazard on track, and thought that he should get banned again for a couple of races. But your analysis changes my perspective. He does deserve his ride, and he will likely improve, given the chance. Further race bans won’t give him that opportunity.

  2. Even if we accept that 3 were his fault (which in my eyes is a bit generous, not much, but a bit!), he has been at fault in over a 5th of all races he has started this year. This is still more than anyone else in recent memory and so whilst we shouldn’t be demanding his head on a platter, we should be asking questions about his decision making.

    He’s not the first sports person to have questions fired at him about his performance (good or bad) and he certainly won’t be the last, so what makes him different? Should the media give all athletes the same break you want for Grosjean? So long as they are respectful (something some journos from some publications struggle with!) and not too unreasonable, let the questions come!

  3. Absolutely agree 100%. Its really hard to loose such a stigma though, I still call an 80s driver “Andrea de Crasherish”.

  4. Just looking at the numbers I can see where Romain’s detractors are coming from, that many first lap (or two) incidents cant possibly be a coincidence. However, once each incident is broken down as its own event you’re right. People putting the pressure on the new guy (Schumacher at Monaco) or in Suzuka – just like the two Force Indias at Silverstone – he was too wrapped up with one battle to see the next car entering the fray. Thats the nature of the sport and not an excuse but to see everything being layed on his doorstep is not only unfair and misleading but it takes away the responsability of the other drivers that had been at fault for some incidents from being forced to own up to and learn from their mistakes.

  5. Will, I agree. He has found himself in some unfortunate places but many not his doing. There is a time where you have to lift though to stay in the war by giving up a (first lap) battle, even if it costs a position (rather than a race).

  6. Outstanding Will. Although the world would like to think these drivers have emotions of steel, that fact is, this is their life’s work. A lifetime of sacrifices and hours upon hours of hard work and dedication have led them to this point. Then to be criticized by their peers and public journalists is absolutely devastating. Devastating to anyone. Though some may take it with a grain of sand and move on, some, like myself, would take it hard. I’m not the biggest Lotus fan by any means, but each one the guys are talented beyond our wildest imaginations. Stay strong Romain. Keep up the great work Will.

  7. Funny you should bring this topic up Will. At lunch during the 5th Annual Jack Canfield Memorial 3 Hour Endurance race at Atlantic Motorsport Park on October 8th, this very topic came up. I heard someone mention his name, and I piped up that Webber had branded him a ” nutjob ” or some such, Discussion ensued amongst us marshals, some pro some con. The majority of opinion was that Romain was in fact the instigator in most if not all the incidents so far. After reading your post, with the hindsight of you not me and by the way Iv’e watched the videos too, watching the video over and over, with an acute eye that you have, I would tend to agree with the fact that he owns 3 of them not 7 of them. History and media coverage may play a large part in Grosjean’s future in Formula 1. I also agree that ” that boy ” can drive a car. I hope that said media coverage and history doesn’t crush his career.

  8. I remember Webber showing the world the underside of is Red Bull in 2010! I’m pretty sure there was only one other car on the track!!! “Nut Case!!!!!”

  9. Unfortunately, perception is reality to the masses. I think the masses also enjoy bashing athletes. As a counterpoint, shouldn’t F1 drivers be held to a higher standard? I’ve been an MSC fan for years but him running over people is clearly unacceptable and Mercedes did the right thing by sacking him. These guys make millions and when they do something questionable they better have thick skin and take their lashes. If they they do that something too often they should be worried about their job. Theres a lot of talent out there and sub-standard behaviour on or off the track shouldn’t be tolerated. They need to earn those millions by being above reproach in every facet of their lives.

  10. Couldn’t agree more, Will. I’ve spent the past week defending my statements that Grosjean is no more a danger than another racer that has in excess of 35 incidents in some six years. We won’t go into that, though. GRO has caught a bad rap in this whole deal. He’s a very talented driver, with very complex skill. He’d never have made it to where he is if he did not have the skill to begin with. I’m rather dismayed that many are turning him to a whipping boy here. Yes, Spa was ridiculous, but I really do believe that he learned from that. I simply don’t agree with those that are hammering him over this, how many drivers in the current field have made grave mistakes? There’s a seven time WDC in the field that has made two egregious mistakes this year alone, ending his race as well as the opponent he rear ended. Don’t get me wrong, MSC is, and will always be, a champion of champions; but where is the outcry from his taking two other drivers out? The most recent it would appear that there is no good reason, even the engineers asked, “What happened there?”
    Grosjean deserves the seat, he deserves the shot to clear himself of the stigma. He’s a young, resilient man that can do great things, I have no doubt. My only hope is that the naysayers back off and let him do his job.

  11. There is way too much emphasis in F1 to push on the first corner of the first lap. How many times do we see several cars get damaged in the opening laps? Too much really. Everybody, not just Grosjean, needs to tone it down a little, finish the race. Some of the best drivers ever were crash happy at the beginning of their careers. They either learn or their contracts are not picked up. In every sport, there are rookies who advance to the pro ranks. Some will make it, and some will wash out. Not everybody can handle the BIg Leagues.

  12. I am not a great Vettel Fan, but I will say this. The 2010 crash kid knocked others out of a race trying bold moves that had 25% chance of sticking during a race and not at the start.

    This year we have a driver who is the lowest common denominator in all of the 2012 races with major 1st lap incidents, 7 in total out of 15 races he has started.

    a) He has only himself to blame in the incidents at Malaysia, Spa, Japan. Absolute stupidity in Spa and Japan, I can’t fanthom what he was doing in the car.

    b) With better racing instinct he would have gotten out of another 3, Melbourne, Barcelona and Silverstone. Holding a racing line is not the right to position in a start situation with a gaggle of cars are trying to squeeze through a tight corner. This arguement can be used in a race situation with only 2 cars are side by side.

    c) In Monaco , he had a terrible start. Rather than safely motoring the car into the race he tries bravado and causes a crash with someone who got past him when the lights went off.

    So, the issue with Grosjean is very different and unless he address the start issue, he cannot go on be a champion, no matter how fast he can drive a F1 car. A racing driver must know when one would be in a situation where the line + momentum is not going to be sufficient to get out of a mess and lift off or move aside, specially at the start. This is where he is lacking and only himself sitting down and changing his approach will help improve matters.

    Is he deficient on a critical racing skill – Probably Yes. Is he a Nut case, Definitely No.

    • I will have to disagree with you on your points b) and c), for reasons I have outlined in the article. I cannot understand how you think Schumacher is past Grosjean in Monaco as it is Michael’s front right that contacts Romain’s rear left, thus showing that Romain was always ahead. Rewatch the offending moments again.

      I think Leigh’s comment below is a fine juxtaposition to the points you raise.

  13. I believe there’s an extra element to the reasons Grosjean has had some difficulties at the starts — and Will, you’re right, his reputation is being incorrectly tarred.

    In the past few years – and not just the Pirelli years – race starts have generally calmed down, due mainly through a mixture of greater experience and technological evolution.

    There was a time – not that long ago – when opening laps crashes happened relatively often; whether it because drivers were fighting for position knowing overtaking was next to impossible or because the old starting procedures in the cars used to be very different up until the early 2000s.

    As such, we have really become unused to seeing such action on the first lap – if anything, the “Pirelli effect” now sees drivers take more care in the opening laps, knowing a long game tyre strategy pays far more dividends at the end of each stint.

    What doesn’t quite add up is Grosjean’s experience. The chap has been racing long enough and garnered so much racing time and laps, that some of these errors could probably be avoided; however let’s be clear – Spa apart – we’re not talking big crashes here.
    The incidents Grosjean has found himself involved in have not been Andrea de Cesaris style smashes.
    We’re not seeing barrel-rolling Lotus’ on a weekly basis – if anything, many of accidents have been minor dinks and relatively low speed clunks that have resulted in spins and punctures rather than destroyed tubs.

    Yes, Spa was stupid, but a bit of perspective is needed when looking at the overall picture, but sadly perspective is not something F1 does that well, unless one is trying to sell headlines in which case “nutcase” works rather well.

  14. I am absolutely with you on this Will. I believe, that in future Romain will be thought of as one of the greats of his generation. (I just hope he is given the opportunity to prove me right).
    One other thing, having watched the Spa accident a few times, (and thank God that it only resulted in a very expensive mess rather than injury or worse), does anyone think like I do that Lewis appeared to keep his foot in and pretty much pushed Romain’s car into the others – even though he must have known his race was over there and then?

    • I’m afraid that Romain pushing Lewis onto the grass ensured that Lewis missed his braking point, couldn’t slow the car down and by the time he hit Grosjean, his front wheels were off the ground and he too was a passenger. Lewis couldn’t have done anything else short of putting himself into the wall.

  15. I don’t see how Monaco was Schumacher’s fault. By the same logic Spa was Hamilton’s for not getting out of it or Alonso wasn’t at fault in Suzuka. It was Grosjean’s fault for moving too far across, just as it was with Alonso last weekend. Schumacher had nowhere to go.

    But anyway, I don’t want to get into debates about specific incidents, I’d say it’s not just a question of whether Romain has always been at fault or not. A few of them he undoubtedly has been, but compare him to Kimi who (apart from Suzuka, where Alonso was at fault) has avoided incidents. A driver with better awareness on lap 1 would probably have managed to avoid getting involved in so many incidents. You don’t always have to be at fault to have been capable of avoiding an incident.

    You forgot lap 1 in Hockenheim where he somehow managed to run into Massa who had already lost his own front wing. You should be able to avoid a driver with no front wing (Massa had already ruined his own race) but all Grosjean did was unnecessarily ruin his own.

    Suzuka was not over-aggressiveness or anything like that, it just seemed like he completely failed to watch Webber. He was only focussing on 1 car. He was trying so hard not to have an accident he had a very stupid one. His head must be in a terrible place. I don’t agree with Boullier when he said it’s something only Grosjean can sort out. Yes, ultimately it’s down to Grosjean, but Lotus need to give him all the support they can right now. What form should that support take? Is Jackie Stewart the answer? Worth a try. I don’t know. It’s a difficult one. That’s why I’m not a team principal!

    It does seem like a spatial awareness thing, and as James Allen wrote on his blog that is something that can perhaps not be trained.

    I hope Grosjean can sort it out. It’s a shame, I really like him. I love the fact he’s loving being in Formula 1. You can see he really appreciates the fact he’s on the grid having had a drive before and lost it. It’s great to see a driver so happy to be there. It’s not nice to watch him have all these accidents then have to take the flak for it.

  16. Top piece Will. It’s almost refreshing that an F1 journalist is actually looking at the facts and individual incidents before branding Grosjean a danger to himself and others, and that he shouldn’t be on the race track. He’s been incredibly unlucky to be involved in so many incidents, especially since as you rightly point out, he is not responsible for all of them. More than a fair share of them are racing incidents…and they’re a part of the sport.

    Grosjean is still a young driver and he’s only in his first full season of F1. With a bit more time and experience, as well as perhaps a few words of wisdom from other former drivers. This is quite possibly where the role of Alex Wurz at Williams as a driver coach comes in handy. Maldonado seems to have calmed down a lot in the last few races and is hopefully on his way to shedding the reputation for being a driver who crashes a lot. Boullier has said that only Grosjean can sort out the problem himself…but I’m not so sure that is the case. Maybe we need former drivers being employed by these teams to look after younger drivers and offer some words of wisdom.

    With a little bit of time, some more experience and a bit of polishing, Grosjean will win races. His natural speed is something to be in awe of and as you say, the boy can race.

  17. A great piece Will. I think RG is being unfairly pilloried for a run of unfortunate events. If he had a car that could qualify closer to the front then he wouldn’t be put in these situations. We need drivers like Grosjean in F1. Anyone who can pull a move off like this is not a muppet http://youtu.be/2IN-lIf_62I

  18. The only problem here is that for some reason, the sport needs a villain and a good old witchhunt. 2010 it was Vettel, last year it was Hamilton’s crashing, earlier this year it was Maldonado and now it’s Grosjean.

    OK, the Spa crash was worthy of a ban, but many other drivers lately should have been treated similarly. The ban has sort of cemented this witch hunt idea that he’s some sort of liability, which is untrue. He’ll calm down and do really well given enough experience. One wonders how the testing ban has affected him here – perhaps the extra running could have calmed him down?

    As for the idea that it’s hard to shake off the label of a crash magnet – well it can be done. Jody Scheckter and James Hunt managed it …

  19. While I agree with you that there is no doubt Grosjean is a fast guy. Being fast is not all that it takes to be a good racing driver. The incident with Webber was simply down to a lack of concentration, you cant have a lack of concentration in a 200mph car when there are other 200mph cars around you. If he can only concentrate on one car, the one beside him then maybe he should look at drag racing as a sport. To say Webber was slow thru the corner in my opinion is wrong. He had 2 cars ahead of him that he was paying attention to.

    There was a similar incident in the race with Perez and Hamilton. Hamilton was slower than usual thru a corner, it caught Perez out but he managed to avoid tagging Hamilton even tho it meant the end of his race.

    I would love to see Grosjean continue in F1, but unless he can sort out his lack of concentration/awareness of others I cant really see a place for him on the F1 grid.

  20. I think the Melbourne incident you are being a bit too easy on Grosjean – he had lost the position, the natural thing to do is take your foot off the gas and tuck in behind mid corner, not try to run the guy on the outside on corner exit like Romain did. Totally his fault that one, no one else left to blame and really no need for it so early in a race. The rest I agree with you, spot on.

  21. We saw in Japan that Kimi & Fernando touched at the start, Kimi’s fault because he was behind or Kimi’s fault because he used every part of the track and some grass to avoid as best as possible the back of Fernando; a racing incident it the first corner it was deemed. But how different is this to the start at Spa; Lewis is the car behind and Roman moves right to defend his position. Lewis makes no attempt to use all of the track and has what looks like 50cm clear to his right before the edge of the track; perhaps Lewis could have moved some more? perhaps he could have backed out of the passing move? The difference between KR / FA at Suzuka and RG / LH at Spa is what?

    • I think the difference is the result. Ultimately Japan only affected Fernando and Kimi. Had the result seen Kimi edged into a moment that took out multiple cars, would we have seen a race ban for Fernando? Had Fernando not retired it would have been interesting to have seen whether Race Control would have handed him a drive through, as they did with Grosjean. In both instances, and we can only play devil’s advocate here, the precedent had already been set. Obviously the move in Spa was such that it sparked a huge and dangerous accident but Romain edging Lewis in Spa and Fernando edging Kimi in Japan are quite similar in that they were both defensive moves designed to keep the driver behind from passing.

      • but not even a murmur from the stewards in Japan re Fernando, other drivers have been “questioned” post event when they had contact.
        I still contend that Spa was caused by a driver not wanting to use all the track to avoid an accident. Your opinion of the GP3 & GP2 racers pushing others onto the grass as the start in Spa were clear to hear on air and blogged afterwards with justification, but Lewis didn’t even get close to the edge of the track.

  22. Grosjean might only be culpable for 3 of the start incidents, but the question should be, is 3 too many? Also, what difference does it make if the incident is first lap or last lap? The outcome is the same either way so should be treated equally. Why did Romain receive a ban and not (an I don’t want to bang the drum) Pastor for his numerous blunders?

    One thing that everyone in F1 has overlooked with Pastor is how he managed to race at Monaco after receiving a lifetime ban from Monaco in 2005 for hitting a marshall? Definitely more dangerous than anything Romain has done.

  23. It’s great to see some actual journalism being done in the Formula 1 sphere, this is a well written and well researched article Will and I hope it’s seen and read by many. Grosjean is one of the most talented men on the grid and I just hope he comes out the other end of this season with his reputation intact.

    • I’m not sure I can agree. Based on the the assumption that we accept Romain was culpable in 3 first lap incidents this season, that’s 1 every 5 races. A 20% chance he’ll be at fault in the first lap of each race. Who else in the field even comes close? Spa was an abomination. Suzuka was a marginal shade better, but not much!

      It’s called a super license for a reason.

      • I agree that 3 incidents is too many, however before we all go after Romain with pitchforks and torches, I’d suggest that Maldonado is far more deserving of a ban. He used his car as a weapon against Hamilton and has been the most brazenly hazardous guy on the grid all year.

  24. FINALLY! I’ve felt like this all year. Most of the time it’s completely not been his fault! Leave the guy alone. It’s so easy to pick on the new kid and jump on the bandwagon. Maldonado has DELIBERATELY crashed into Hamilton and Perez in the last two years. That deserves race bans. I think Grosjean is incredibly talented. Let’s hope he gets some luck from now on.

  25. I’ve been trying to argue these points for the past month or so. I believe that he is just very unlucky. I am a Grosjean fan and have been since the start of this season when I saw his impressive CV. I’ve often wanted to give the poor guy a manly hug after watching him walk away from his car after an incident. Fingers crossed we’ve seen the last of it now. There is still time for him to win a race before the end of the season too!

  26. This is racing…accidents happen. Sure, mistakes are made by all drivers. Sometimes they result in someone not being able to finish the race. This is nothing new. And let’s face it, if there were no accidents, there’d be a decent number of fans who’d be less interested in the sport.

  27. Will, I was wondering if you could give us an update on how the press conference went? I’m curious as to how the other drivers responded to Grosjean.

    I also thought it was quite interesting that both Vettel and Alonso still consider Hamilton a WDC threat. Wouldn’t he have to win every race for the rest of the season at this point?

  28. I agree with you. I spent several weeks defending Grosjean and listening and reading and want to crucify him. It is totally unfair treatment you are giving to Romain, both by the press and by other pilots.

  29. I do agree with your points Will, however – my problem with this is that he couldn’t go two races after a ban before he was involved in a new 1st lap incident.
    In my mind, that alone, justifies Webber’s reaction. And if he is involved once again in Korea, I would really like to see a ban again.

  30. I moslty agree with you, since I also wrote something about it (in French : http://bit.ly/QaGn27). I think the main question is : is F1 the place to be for him ?OK he’s quick, but after all most of those guys are. Right ? He’s obviously a good guy too, and I had the chance to meet and speak to him. But I think he’s got a big, serious, problem with starts which are crucials. So if he can’t solve it until the end of the season, there’s no need for him to be back in F1 next year !

    • I think he deserves to be in F1. And he knows what he’s got to do to sort it out, and that’s to stop over thinking things. You don’t win a championship, let alone six, by crashing at the first corner every race.

      • He’s obviously talented, and it’s equally obvious that most of his shunts this season were not his fault. When I think of the dangerous mistakes I’ve seen this year I think of Maldanado and Schumacher, but not Grosjean (except Spa, obviously). I know, I know, it’s not right to say that about Michael, but I’ve noticed an awful lot of mistakes leading to accidents this year, and it’s sad, but it’s best for everyone that he’s leaving after this season. He’s the greatest of all time, but he’s fallen off the pace.

  31. It always comes down to the same problem: people talking about things they don’t know. One can’t seriously analyze sports based only on numbers. And Romain Grosjean couldn’t certainly get a better advocate. Thanks Will for another brilliant article.

  32. Formula 1 almost needs this kind of controversy. Not for the ratings or anything, it just seems like there is some sort of fascination with the soap opera type drama associated with the sport amongst the masses. These stories hold peoples attention almost as much as the racing. While I don’t think these stories are concocted, they sure seem to get fanned after the initial spark.

    I recall last year almost to the day I was commenting on a blog post talking about Lewis and all the stick he was getting for incidents last year, and I believe I was making a similar case about half the incidents were not his fault. There seems to be somebody in this position yearly.

    Webber’s comments and the press coverage of Romain serve nothing more than to fill the papers and hold the publics interest between race weekends IMO.

  33. Brilliant writing Will! You mention absolutely everything there is to mention which makes your articles have substance! Always enjoyable! As a Romain supporter myself I think he is being picked on too much and been made a scapegoat! I see his huge potential and to go with it hes a cheerful, positive man :) He is more than deserving of his Place in F1! I just hope Will that Eric Boullier fully shares your view and gives Romain everything he needs and stays loyal to him! Have you talked to Eric Will? Fascinating to see how much he agrees or not? Get him to read your piece and to Give Romain a contract for at least 2013 :D hehe

  34. After watching RG interview with Lee McKenzie after Suzuka, he looked like a guy on the verge of tears. He is obviously taking the ban and this reputation that he has become saddled with as “first lap nutcase” to heart. I can’t help but be concerned that his confidence is in the toilet at the moment and how this will affect his driving at the remaining races. Lotus hires him to qualify as high up the grid as possible to win the most points for the team but if your mindset on the grid waiting for the lights to go out is “I’m not going to be invloved in another crash at the first turn” rather than “I am racing to win” well it can only lead to trouble. I am keeping my fingers crossed for him that he has a clean uneventful race this weekend so that he can move past this and remind himself just how good a driver he really is…

  35. I wipe a tear away myself as I read this.. Romain is the emotion that balances Kimi’s indifference at Lotus. If course he’s ruthless, you don’t get anywhere in this sport walking down the paddock in a ‘free hugs’ shirt, but if this has damaged him, the FIA only have themselves to blame! They’ve made an example of him because, unlike Maldonado, it’s unlikely Switzerland will pull any cash out of the sport. Yes Venuzuela, I went there! Pastor has been far more calamitous, irritating far more drivers than Romain, yet he gets the whipping? The politics are apparent, and it’s a crying shame!
    Great blog, beautifully written :)

    • I couldn’t agree more. Maldonado has been to blame for almost every crash he’s had this year, but nobody is focused on him. He’s caused more damage, and more risk, to the drivers than anybody else, but Grosjean is the one catching hell for it. It’s a shame.

  36. First of all, Will, you’re a great reporter. I only recently “discovered” F1, so you’re the only paddock reporter I’ve ever known, and as far as I’m concerned you’re the only one we’ll ever need. I truly hope that NBC keeps you and your colleagues with the broadcast, and if they don’t, I don’t know how they’ll keep people involved with the sport. Second, you’re absolutely right about Mr. Grosjean, he’s a good kid and he’s gotten a bad rap. You made the case very well, and if you get a chance, please tell him to keep his chin up; there are a lot of us out here who are becoming big fans of his! Thanks for everything, and if we don’t see you on NBC, good luck with whatever else you do!!

  37. Part of the job of being a racing driver is to keep out of trouble. That is Romains real lesson this season. He will probably race next season too and hopefully add some great pressure to Kimi which is the driver I personally support.

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