Mid-Season Review: Romain Grosjean

After finishing his 2013 campaign as one of the most improved drivers in the paddock, Romain Grosjean could be forgiven for being a touch frustrated about the machinery he has been given for 2014. The Lotus E22 is a far-cry from its predecessors and as such, Romain has struggled to make an impact so far this season. However, Grosjean’s eight point return from the first eleven rounds of the season is quite impressive considering the fact that his car appears to be one of the worst handling cars on the grid. There is also the small matter of the inter-team battle, in which he has delivered in almost every chapter so far this season. It is certainly not all bad for the Frenchman.

Season So Far

Australian Grand Prix
Retired
Malaysian Grand Prix
11th
Bahrain Grand Prix
12th
Chinese Grand Prix
Retired
Spanish Grand Prix
8th
Monaco Grand Prix
8th
Canadian Grand Prix
Retired
Austrian Grand Prix
14th
British Grand Prix
12th
German Grand Prix
Retired
Hungarian Grand Prix

Retired

8 From A Possible 275

In Test Cricket, if a batsman scores just eight runs from 275 balls, he is both persistent and having a very poor return for his efforts. However, to continue this metaphor, Romain Grosjean has been using a cracked bat so far this season – in context, his eight points haul is impressive. 
Lotus have simply not delivered the tools for Grosjean to perform in the manner which he is capable of. His run of four podiums in the final six races of last season suggested that his maiden victory was just around the corner, but a combination of an unstable winter at Enstone and an under-developed powerunit has meant that the E22 is a challenging beast to tame. While Pastor Maldonado has been demonstrating just how great the challenge is, his teammate has been rising to the challenge, and despite frequent moaning across the team-radio, Romain seems to be extracting the maximum performance from the car at almost every race weekend. It is highlighted by the fact that Grosjean has beaten his teammate in Qualifying on ten occasions, while outracing Pastor three to one, (in races where both cars finished.)
Break down the list of results and Grosjean’s campaign so far becomes even more impressive. Barring his admittedly embarrassing accident in Hungary, his four retirements have all been as a result of reliability. These reliability issues very nearly struck again in Austria – a race in which Romain was battling against the tide of mechanical gremlins. Meanwhile, his final placing in Malaysia and Bahrain was quietly promising for Lotus, at a time when their car was at the lower regions of the development curve. As soon as the car was capable of points, Grosjean delivered in back-to-back races, including the race of attrition at Monaco. Since then, results have been hard to come by due to a string of reliability issues as well as the aforementioned crash in Hungary, but aside from the latter, Romain has maximized the potential points haul on his side of the garage.

FRICssues

The loss of the FRIC suspension system seems to have taken a huge toll on Lotus. While it was initially believed that Mercedes would suffer the greatest downturn in performance, early signs suggest that Lotus have lost the most ground. In the past two races prior to the summer hiatus, Grosjean suffered two poor qualifying performances, with P14 being the best he could do on both occasions. His radio message in Hungary told the full story – when his race engineer Ayao Komatsu told him that he was P14, Romain’s dejected response was, “we couldn’t even get Sutil?” Unless they can find a way to compensate for the loss of FRIC and correct the balance of their car, it could be a difficult final eight races for team Enstone.

As For The Rating…

Romain Grosjean’s 2014 campaign so far warrants 8/10
The Frenchman may not have had the machinery to make a substantial impact this season, but his performances in the challenging E22 have impressed me. In a similar manner to Alonso, it seems that Grosjean has extracted the maximum performance out of his Lotus on a regular basis, with his weekend in Spain highlighting his talents. Maldonado has rarely been a threat to Romain’s supremacy and to beat a teammate so significantly deserves great acclaim.

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