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Romain Grosjean




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Romain Grosjean


Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva, Switzerland

Official website:


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 2012 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, in the opinion of many very lucky to be retained, it was vital that Romain kept out of trouble whilst not losing his undoubted pace. To this effect he sought the help of a sports psychologist, such was his determination.

Despite a so-so start to the season, a strong performance in Bahrain saw Romain join his teammate on the podium, the Frenchman's cause aided by a brand new chassis. A suspension failure in Spain was followed by an insane weekend in Monaco, where he appeared to revert to the man we all remembered from 2012. Following three crashes during the practice sessions, which prompted an angry outburst from Eric Boullier, Romain collided with Ricciardo in the race, thereby earning a ten-place grid penalty in Canada.

Starting from the very back of the grid in Montreal Romain worked his way up to eighth before having to make an extra pit stop due to tyre wear, thus dropping to thirteenth.

In Germany, after qualifying 5th, he led the race for a while until the intervention of the safety car. Subsequently forced to let his teammate pass as he had faster tyres, Romain resisted Alonso to earn his second podium of the season.

Hungary was another disaster. It was a race which he could, and should, have won. Some superb moves, on a track where overtaking is almost unheard of, and all he had to show for it was sixth having been handed a drive-through for going over the white lines when passing Massa and a subsequent 20s penalty for a dumb collision with Button.

By this time the team's financial plight was the talk of the paddock. However, for a guy so erratic in 2012, the money dramas of 2013 seemed to help Romain to focus. Indeed, as the team's problem with Raikkonen became public the Frenchman appeared to rise to the occasion as if sensing what was to happen, as if knowing that this was his chance to become team leader.

Between Korea and Austin he scored 75 points, and though engine failure - his team's first of the season - side-lined him just two laps into the Brazilian Grand Prix, he was never going to improve on seventh in the final standings.

Having admitted that previously he had been "dancing too fast for the music", Romain got his act together in 2013. How much of this was due to his psychologist and how much due to his new baby or simply old fashioned determination not to be beaten, we do not know, but the fact is the guy firmly established himself as a contender.

What remained to be seen was whether Lotus can provide him with a winning car. It couldn't.

The alarm bells first rang when Technical Director Nick Chester confirmed that the team would not be attending the opening test in Jerez. "We're going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams," he admitted. "We've decided that attending the Jerez test isn't ideal for our build and development programme. We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions."

Of course, part of the problem was revealed at Jerez when the other Renault powered teams were barely able to put more than a few laps together. Over the course of the four days, Renault-powered team managed 151 laps compared to 445 (Ferrari) and 875 (Mercedes).

Once testing proper got underway, it was clear that in addition to its burdensome power unit, Lotus was running a dog of a car. Despite its radical look, the E22 was awful and, in tandem with its Renault power unit, it was clear the team would struggle. That said, it was never clear how much the team would struggle, scoring just 10 points over the course of the year and slipping to 8th in the standings.

Indeed, the team's season was summed up best in Abu Dhabi when Maldonado's car stopped after 26 laps and burst into flames. Back in the pits the mechanics were seen laughing, clearly delighted to see the back of the car and the year.

It was Spain before Romain scored his first points of the season, adding a further four two weeks later in Monaco. And that was it, his season gradually falling apart.

Considering the equipment at his disposal, both drives were epic, and for much of the season his performances, much like Alonso at Ferrari, flattered the car beneath him. All too often however the frustration was obvious, "I cannot believe it! Bloody engine! Bloody engine!" he (understandably) screamed over the radio in Singapore.

Like Nico Hulkenberg, Romain, who has often been linked with major teams, clearly didn't figure in their plans for 2015, and while Maldonado (and his money) were quickly re-signed it was late November before the Frenchman was finally confirmed.

At the end of our 2014 team review, we wrote: "The one hope for all concerned is that the Enstone team has parted company with Renault, in an 'if you can't beat 'em...' move, having switched to Mercedes".

Little did we know.

Whilst the Mercedes-powered E23 was a whole lot better than its predecessor, it was events off track that continued to dominate. In dire financial difficulty, the team, almost from the word go, found itself faced with problem after problem.

In Hungary it was forced to miss much of FP1 after Pirelli withheld its tyres, the Italian manufacturer insisting that its outstanding bill(s) be paid. At a subsequent event the team's equipment - including the cars - was impounded following a lawsuit by a former driver and in Japan the team was forced to rely on food and hospitality from Bernie Ecclestone after being locked out of the circuit's own hospitality unit for not paying its 2014 bill.

To make matters worse, not only did the lack of cash mean a lack of new parts or development, it meant a shortage or spares - not the ideal situation when you have Pastor Maldonado in one of your cars.

Yes, there were mistakes, particularly Canada where he lost out on the points after a ludicrous clash with Will Stevens, then a needless crash in Russia.

Yet, if anyone doubted Grosjean's ability, his strength of character, one need look no further than Spa - a circuit which has bad memories for the youngster, and where the bailiffs shadowed the team like vultures. Qualifying fourth he was penalised following a gearbox change. Nonetheless, he battled his way back through the field to take a fine podium - his first since India 2013 - albeit courtesy of Sebastian Vettel's late tyre failure

Remember, this was a car that was not being developed, a team that was publicly falling apart due to its lack of money, then there were the off-track issues that will have affected the Frenchman, the atrocities in Paris and the death of his countryman and friend, Jules Bianchi.

Despite talk of Renault coming to the rescue, it appeared Romain, like many of us, had his doubts, and in late September, following weeks of rumours, it was confirmed he would be spearheading the new Haas team.

Joining an all-new venture, albeit heavily involved with Ferrari, might be considered, by some, to be a case of frying pan to fire, yet Romain insisted he had made the right move. After all, in theory it took him one step closer to Maranello at a time the legendary Italian outfit was said to be seeking a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.

In the moments after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain must have thought he'd finally cracked it, that he'd finally found a team where he could prove himself. After all, any doubt that the sixth place finish in Australia was a fluke were dispelled as the Frenchman claimed fifth a couple of weeks later.

Sadly, that was as good as it got.

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, they say, but was the false hope offered by those two opening results fair on anyone?

China proved the inevitable fortune cookie, the Frenchman suffering the brake issues that were to plague the team for the remainder of the season.

While Sebastian Vettel's radio rants grabbed the headlines, Romain was doing his own little bit to entertain the masses, regularly describing the car as the worst he'd ever driven.

Friday's were typically entertaining as the Frenchman and his teammate floundered with a car that appeared almost undriveable. Things would usually settle down on Saturday only to deteriorate when it truly mattered, on Sundays.

Twice over the course of the year Romain didn't even make it to the grid. Singapore was surely the low point, the Frenchman suffering a brake-by-wire issue on his way to the grid. This followed an engine failure in FP1 and crashes in FP2 and qualifying.

While there were points finishes in Russia and Austria, in the final twelve races of the season he scored just one point.

A new front wing introduced in Japan seemed to improve matters, the Frenchman qualifying eighth. Sadly however, he was unable to hold off the Williams duo in the race and finished outside the points.

In Brazil the team changed brake supplier, another improvement which seemed to suit Romain who put the car seventh on the grid. Sadly however he crashed on his way to the grid next day.

Despite the shortcomings of the rookie team in 2016, and despite his radio rants, for the most part Romain stepped up to the plate. Indeed, his performances in Austria, Japan and Abu Dhabi said more about him that those two early successes.

Haas, Dallara and Ferrari will have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and with Romain on board to help guide the team we were sure things would get better.

As he gamely battled to help his team deliver, helping it to punch above its weight - as he tried at Lotus - those days of first lap madness seemed a lifetime away, the boy had grown up.

That said, was there a single fan out there who didn't punch the air in delight and shout "yes!" when, in the final stages of the United States Grand Prix, Guenther Steiner told Romain to "shut up" over the team radio.

All season long, the Italian, his team and us long suffering fans had been subjected to the Frenchman's endless complaints - only a few of which were justified - therefore when Steiner spoke he spoke for all of us.

While reliability was an issue, with the team suffering DNFs due to a myriad of reasons including water leaks, suspension, electrics, hydraulics and even an errant wheel nut, as in 2016, it was the brakes that caused the biggest headaches, certainly for a certain Frenchman.

The first lap madness a thing of the past, other than his endless moaning, and a needless crash in Brazil, Romain got on with the job in hand.

However, while, as in 2016, he made a decent team leader, one couldn't help but feel that on many occasions the Frenchman didn't dig deep enough within himself, didn't seek out that little extra... say in the manner of Fernando Alonso.

Indeed, though his season had some good moments, Monaco and Austria being the best examples, for the most part he never did anything that really stood out, certainly enough to attract an offer from one of the bigger teams.

His move on Stroll in Abu Dhabi was clear proof that he still has it, but the fact is we needed to see this sort of thing on a regular basis.

With McLaren switching to Renault engines and Sauber having access to the latest-spec Ferrari, we predicted that Haas would have it that much harder in 2018. In fact, however, the American outfit's close ties to the Italian company - too close according to numerous rivals - saw Haas take a significant step forward.

However, while the American outfit took that significant step forward, its relative inexperience, not to mention the haphazard approach of its drivers, meant it failed to fully deliver.

Make no mistake, the unsafe releases in Melbourne which cost Romain and Magnussen a serious points haul was totally down to the team, as was the ludicrous flouting of the regulations which saw the Frenchman stripped of sixth in Italy.

However, for the most part Romain's bad fortune was down to the man himself.

Indeed, there were times it appeared that all his work with his sports psychologist had been wasted, the Frenchman appearing to have learned nothing from the needless errors that saw him handed a one race ban in 2012 following the (Spa) incident which could have cost Alonso his life.

Where to begin? The crash behind the safety car in Azerbaijan? The kamikaze-like attack on the entire midfield in Spain? The numerous incidents at his home race - where he tangled with countryman Leclerc - or the clashes with Sainz and teammate Magnussen at Silverstone?

Yet there were some typically strong performances also, Austria, Germany, Italy and Japan being the examples that spring to mind.

In Singapore he was rightly penalised for his flagrant ignoring of the blue flags, while another encounter with Leclerc - this time in Austin - saw Romain come dangerously close to a second race ban.

Fact is, in what was the fourth best car on the grid, Romain should have done better - a lot better - and should certainly have out-pointed teammate Magnussen.

Nonetheless, he was retained for 2019. However, if Haas took another step forward - as seemed entirely likely - Romain would need to take two. He'd been in the game long enough not to be making such mistakes, errors which were not only compromising his results but those of his young team.

The mistakes had to stop, we suggested, otherwise 2020 would see Romain either heading to Formula E or back into the kitchen for a second cook book.

Eighth in its debut season, eighth again in season two and then a convincing fifth in season three, much was expected of the American team in 2019, but it was not to be for the only step Haas took in 2019 was backwards.

At the season opener, it really looked as though Haas was in business, Romain and Magnussen claiming sixth and seventh in qualifying. However, while the Dane finished sixth in the race, Romain was to suffer a repeat of the same unsafe release that had sidelined both drivers just twelve months earlier.

Sadly, in many ways, Australia was as good as it got.

While Magnussen, in particular, continued to perform brilliantly in qualifying, making it to Q3 in five of the first six races, everything fell apart on Sunday, for though most teams have a window in which their tyres are at an optimum, at Haas the window was miniscule.

Three DNFs from the opening four races saw Romain on the back foot from the outset, and while the brake issue in Azerbaijan was out of his hands, the damage incurred in Bahrain was somewhat self-inflicted.

Though the team introduced an upgrade in Spain it only made matters worse, and it wasn't long before it became clear that the American team had a fundamental issue. As it struggled to understand the problem, far less solve it, all manner of fixes were tried, with Romain reverting to the Melbourne spec.

Later in the year as the struggles got worse, Guenther Steiner admitted that he should have listened to his drivers, Romain was never happy with the Barcelona upgrade and avoided it at every opportunity while the team continued with a 'pick and mix' approach to its aero package depending on the circuit.

Soon, Saturdays, like Sundays, were a write-off, and as Magnussen appeared to lose faith, Romain's qualifying efforts began to improve only for things to fall apart next day.

Of course, things weren't helped by the Frenchman's continued erratic approach, which resulted in a number of clashes, the worst being at Silverstone where the Haas duo collided on the opening lap, which, if nothing else, guarantees another classic outburst from Steiner in Season 2 of Driven to Win.

In the lottery that was Germany both drivers scored points, but other than that it was slim pickings, Romain ending the season with just 8 points. From 5th in 2018, the American team had now slipped to ninth, ahead of Williams... the two teams having spent the latter part of the season battling one another… a sad fall from grace for both.

As if things weren't bad enough, in Austin Romain crashed in practice. Normally this wouldn't have been a big issue, but as the Frenchman was running the team's much-anticipated new front wing - of which there was only one - it was.

Despite all the doom and gloom, it wasn't all bad for the Frenchman, who shone in the difficult conditions of Germany and Brazil and delivered a stand-out performance in Monaco, where, starting from 13th on the grid after being blocked by countryman Pierre Gasly in Q2, battled his way to tenth in the race.

Overall however, it was too little, too late, with accidents and errors still commonplace.

Consequently there were more than a few raised eyebrows in the Singapore paddock when it was revealed that Romain had been retained.

At a time the likes of Nico Hulkenberg were up for grabs, not to mention the wealth of young talent rising through the ranks, most felt that the decision to stick with Romain sent out the wrong message, indeed some saw it as proof that Gene Haas is on the verge of calling a halt to his F1 programme.

In all honesty, Romain has had more than enough opportunities to deliver, but not only has he largely failed to do so, he appears to be one of those drivers who doesn't learn from his mistakes.

There can be no doubt that 2020 is a make or break season for both the Frenchman and his team.

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