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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 

Although born in Switzerland (Geneva), Romain Grosjean races under a French licence and is, to all intents and purposes, French.

As ever, Romain began in Karts, starting off in 2000. Beginning with the Junior category, he moved up to Formula ICA just a year later, contesting the French championship for three seasons, in addition to some Formula A races in 2002.

In 2003, in addition to a number of Formula ICA events, he also got his single-seater career underway, winning all ten rounds of the Swiss Formula Renault 1600 championship.

For 2004 he moved up to French Formula Renault, finishing seventh overall, courtesy of a win and two other podium results. The Following year he won the title while also taking two podium finishes in the Formula Renault Eurocup.

In 2006, Romain finished 13th in the F3 Euroseries in addition to scoring two wins in the Pau round of the British F3 Championship.

He continued in F3 Euroseries for 2007, but moved to ASM, which had previously run title-winners Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta, going on to win the title having won six races.

Having taken pole position for the prestigious Masters of F3 race at Zolder, it was widely assumed that the result would be a foregone conclusion, however, Romain stalled on the grid and could only finish 14th.

In 2008, the youngster had a heavy schedule, for in addition to his GP2 and GP2 Asia commitments with ART Grand Prix, Romain was named test driver for the Renault F1 team replacing Nelson Piquet who had been promoted to a full race seat.

Romain got his GP2 Asia season off to the perfect start in Dubai, taking pole position and victory in both races. However, the next round, at Sentul saw the French youngster struggle only managing 4th in both races. He eventually won the inaugural title - with 61 points to Sebastien Buemi's 37 - however, one couldn't help but feel that the French youngster had made hard work of it.

In the GP2 Series proper, Grosjean once again failed to convince, one minute awesome the next poor… witness his actions in the Sprint Race at Barcelona. While he was the highest placed rookie in the GP2 championship, finishing 4th overall, he could and should have done better.

The new test rules in 2008 meant he saw little F1 action. Having made his debut in an F1 car at Silverstone - as part of the World Series by Renault weekend - Romain first drove the car in anger just a few days later at Barcelona, there were two further outings the following month at Jerez.

Although named as the official Renault test driver for 2009, the even stricter testing rules meant he was likely to see even less F1 action. Consequently, rather than sit around twiddling his thumbs, Romain returned to GP2, however with his seat at ART Grand Prix now filled by Nico Hulkenberg, the Frenchman accepted a drive from Spain's Barwa Addax.

Once again, Romain was infuriatingly inconsistent, brilliant one minute frustrating the next. Excellent performances in Spain and Monaco were followed by a turkey in Turkey.

Nonetheless, as Hulkenberg appeared to be waltzing off with the GP2 title, Romain got the call to replace Nelson Piquet at Renault, Flavio Briatore finally having run out of patience with the Brazilian.

Sadly, the new testing rules which effectively kept Romain out of F1 work in 2009 were also to impact his race performances. Having to get to grips with the R29 in the full spotlight of the F1 media circus was never going to be easy - even Michael Schumacher had to resort to illegal testing as part of his return - however, it's certain that the Frenchman could have done without the added publicity of 'Crashgate' and its fall-out.

In seven outings, Romain's best qualifying performances were in Italy (12th) and Brazil (13th), while 13th at Interlagos was also his best race result.

Following his F1 debut at Valencia, Romain revealed that he still held a job in his local bank in Geneva, a means of keeping his feet on the ground. With no sign of a return to F1 in 2010, and the Frenchman surely unwilling to return to GP2, it looked as though the youngster might be spending a bit more time behind the counter.

In July 2010, Romain announced he would be returning to GP2 with DAMS, initially replacing Jerome d'Ambrosio for the German round and then Ho-Pin Tung from Belgium onwards. Two thirds and two sixths were enough to secure fourteenth in the overall standings.

Romain returned to GP2 full-time with DAMS for 2011 taking part in both the GP2 Asia and main GP2 series.

He took two pole positions and one race victory to win the GP2 Asia series from Jules Bianchi, and also won the first race of the main series to lead that championship as well.

While he lost the championship lead to Giedo van der Garde after the second round of the series, following an event which was hampered by a disqualification due to a technical infringement, he regained it again in Monaco, scoring points in both races despite starting from last place on the grid.

After scoring four further wins as part of a mid-season run that included six consecutive podium finishes, he pulled clear and clinched the championship at the penultimate round at Spa-Francorchamps.

At the start of 2011, Romain joined Lotus Renault GP as one of five test drivers along with Bruno Senna, Ho-Pin Tung, Jan Charouz and Fairuz Fauzy. While there was barely enough work for one test driver, far less five, in late October the team revealed that Romain would drive in the Friday practice session in Abu Dhabi (replacing Senna) and Brazil (replacing Petrov).

On 9 December, weeks after revealing that Kimi Raikkonen, after an absence of two years, was returning to F1 with the newly renamed team, Romain was confirmed as number two, even though Vitaly Petrov had a valid contract.

Throughout his recent career, Romain's performances could be described as 'hit and miss', brilliant one minute and frustratingly bad the next. Sadly, in 2012, all too often the hit and miss was literal.

While teammate Raikkonen took the E20 to third in the Drivers' Championship, scoring 207 points and completing all but one lap of the 1192 lap season. Romain could only manage eighth, finishing just 12 of the 19 races he started and becoming the first driver to be banned from a race since 1994.

A collision with Maldonado on the second lap in Melbourne was a portent of things to come, the Frenchman spinning off at Sepang just two weeks later.

Involved in a number of incidents over the course of the year, the real low came in Belgium when a mindless move saw him take out Alonso, Hamilton and Perez at the first corner. Indeed, the Spaniard was lucky not to be seriously hurt in the incident.

There had already been calls for action to be taken, some claiming that the Frenchman simply didn't have the wherewithal to handle what was happening at the start of races. However, this was the last straw.

Over the course of the season there had been seven first lap incidents involving Romain, and of his eight retirements over the course of the year only two could be put down to the car.

Banned from the subsequent Italian Grand Prix, and fined 50,000 euros, it was a far more circumspect Romain who arrived in Singapore.

Though his season will be remembered for the incidents, it would be unfair to forget the highs, particularly the podium results in Bahrain, Canada and Hungary. However, fact is, for much of the time Romain was his own worst enemy.

Retained for 2013, the Frenchman must ensure he keeps out of trouble whilst not losing his undoubted pace.

With Lotus clearly a team to watch, should Romain not measure up there are a number of other options out there, a fact his manager - team boss Eric Boullier - is fully aware of.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 26
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2012: 2nd (Canada)
Best qualifying 2012: 2nd (Hungary)
Worst qualifying 2012: 18th (Brazil)

2012: Out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen 10 times
2012: Out-qualified by Kimi Raikkonen 9 times

2012: Completed 803 out of 1139 laps (70.5%)
2012: Finished 12 times from 19 starts (63%)

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