Grosjean: I think I have proven that I am one of the best drivers in F1
19 December, 2013
Even with a 2014 contract in his pocket, Romain Grosjean has admitted that he came perilously close to seeing his now flourishing Formula 1 career end. He now considers himself one of the best.
Grosjean told ESPN, “I think I have proven that I am [one] of the best drivers and that’s how I consider myself. It took some work and some painful time to get there, but I am now proud of what I am doing and I don’t think I can do more.”
But despite this confidence, he was banned for a race in 2012 and dubbed last year as the ‘first lap nutcase’ by Mark Webber. The Frenchman had entered the 2013 preseason winter period uncertain if he would be returning to the F1 grid.
Ultimately, having developed a close working relationship with a psychologist and no longer running into regular trouble in wheel-to-wheel combat, Grosjean ended the recently-concluded season as a standout of of the year.
In Kimi Raikkonen’s absence, he will lead the Lotus team in 2014, alongside new teammate Pastor Maldonado. But early in 2013, Grosjean was not so sure about his future.
“I remember calling [team owner] Gerard [Lopez] and saying that the contract is signed. But he said that if in the first four races I had four accidents on the first laps, then it’s all over. I replied that I thought that was normal.”
“I think that in this case, I would not have come to the fifth race,” Grosjean said in an interview with French magazine Auto Hebdo.
He now has his personal problems under control, is happily married and a new father, but Lotus – although competitive – ended the season in disarray.
Amid reports that previously much vaunted ‘Quantum deal’ is collapsing and that employees and suppliers are going unpaid, Grosjean admits it was a difficult period.
“Actually,” he explained, “for the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics, those are external problems,” he said.
“The season did end in difficult conditions,” admitted Grosjean. “It was a particularly hard time for Eric Boullier. But it’s in those moments that you see the strength of the team.”
In the end, with the Quantum money so delayed, Boullier had no choice but to turn down Nico Hulkenberg and sign the heavily-sponsored Maldonado to be Grosjean’s 2014 teammate.
Grosjean admits that Hulkenberg would have been a “great” teammate, but he also thinks that he can work well with the Venezuelan.
“We crossed a couple of times in GP2,” he said, “but I think he is very fast on one lap. When everything is in order around him and with the car, and he is on top of the situation, he can be very fast, and we saw that in last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.”
As for the departing Raikkonen, Grosjean said that he had no relationship with the Finn at all. Indeed, some believe it was Raikkonen’s superiority that exacerbated Grosjean’s problems last year.
“Kimi did his job superbly after coming back into Formula 1,” Grosjean insisted. “He became the leader of the team, even if Lotus has no division of ‘driver 1′ and ‘driver 2′. Kimi of course is a special person, but we had no relationship.”
“I was even surprised when he got to Spa and he said to me ‘Congratulations on the birth of your child’. It was the only thing he said to me in two years.” (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.