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Romain Grosjean wins GP2 title and knocks on Formula 1′s door
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Aug 2011   |  11:08 am GMT  |  14 comments

Romain Grosjean clinched the GP2 title this weekend, following in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg. Now he needs to move back into F1 and it will be very interesting to see what happens.

Grosjean has had an F1 chance before, of course, in 2009 when he was drafted in by Flavio Briatore to replace Nelson Piquet Jr. It was the wrong move at the wring time, he came in with no testing, mid season and up against Fernando Alonso in the other car. He was too young, not prepared and wasn’t physically strong enough.

Now, it’s a different story. He’s regrouped, won the GP2 title at a canter and I’ve been hearing some very impressive data from engineers and tyre engineers recently about his speed and the general level he is on. It sounds like he deserves a second chance.

Watching Bruno Senna come in this weekend to the Renault team and also the ongoing discussions about F1 testing plans in 2012 has put the spotlight onto the whole idea of new blood and change and Grosjean’s name is certainly one that will figure in plans for 2012.

Grosjean was born in Switzerland, but has dual nationality and races on a French licence. There is a big push for a French driver in F1; the FIA president is French and with all its history and investment in the sport it makes no sense for the country not to be represented.

Historically French drivers have come in with support from French companies, particularly Elf. French involvement is a little thin on the ground at the moment, but Total are active in F1 and Renault supplies engines to three teams this year and four next year.

Prior to the LRGP team’s owner Genii Capital getting into business with a leading Brazilian investment firm earlier this month, it looked like Grosjean would be driving the Renault from Singapore onwards. Now Senna has his chance and the team’s intention seems to be to run him for the rest of the season, provided they can win their legal battle after Monza with sacked driver Nick Heidfeld.

The Renault Team has to play a waiting game on Robert Kubica’s fitness and the Sennas and Grosjeans will have to see how this unfolds. Williams and Team Lotus will also be using Renault engines next year so perhaps something might open up there.

“I want to go back to Formula One, of course,” said Grosjean, “But at the moment nothing has been decided. My management, LRGP or the team DAMS have been intelligent because they knew that in 2009 after the third race of the season, I was only thinking about F1. This year, I did not want to make the same mistake so I kept my focus on GP2 exclusively. I have been to the F1 paddock as little as possible to focus here. Now that we are champions, I will have a look at what is going on upstairs, but at the moment, my main concern is to find a good contract for 2012 and nothing else. At least we still have a few months to think about it. Hopefully I can get a good seat in good conditions.”

F1 isn’t well known for giving second chances, but with the opportunities for young drivers to test in F1 so limited, drivers of Grosjean’s experience are a good option.”

Another driver who needs to get into F1 now is Jules Bianchi, who hasn’t performed as expected in his two seasons in GP2. He is also French and is managed by Todt’s son Nicolas. Bianchi is Ferrari’s reserve driver and a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.

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14 Comments
  1. Martin says:

    Timo Glock got his second chance. Lets hope Grosjean gets his DESERVED second chance…

  2. Jarv027 says:

    Hope he isnt forgotten like pantano!

  3. John Gibson says:

    Well, I don’t think Barrichello has quite managed to confirm his position for 2012 yet, not Trulli, so there could be “ins” there.

  4. Chris says:

    Saw him come through the field at silverstone during the F1 support race this year and remember thinking that this can’t have been the same driver we saw in the Renault a few years back… Impressive stuff, congrats to him, hope he gets at least a shot as Senna has done.

  5. JEVthebest says:

    Did you see Bianchi’s race, he remminds me of Hamilton, he is so talented it’s a joke. Let’s hope that he can be at Williams and replace Barrichello.

    1. Andy c says:

      I can imagine grosjean being at Williams next year. Still believe despite liking Rubens, they should have gone for hulk.

      It would line up well with renault engine deal as well.

  6. Doc Ric says:

    Bianchi didn’t impress a lot, I’d rather see Grosjean, Hulkemberg and others get a drive

  7. simon says:

    @ James Allen,

    Between Bianchi and Perez which driver do you fancy getting the 2nd seat Ferrari after Massa eventually leaves.

    If they were to choose from their driver academy.

    We know Bianchi has Todt’s Ferrari connection and Perez has got potentially the biggest($) backup in Slim.

    If both drivers were on par in terms of speed/performance.

    ?

    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      Bianchi is a long way from ready. He needs F1 experience and Ferrari don’t take rookies. If I were them, as I’ve said before, I’d make Button an “end your career with us” offer.

      1. thestretch says:

        would button really go there as he knows he’d be a number 2 to Alonso i know it’s ferrari we are talking about but button has made it clear in the past he would not sign anywhere if they are not free to race.

  8. Mark in Australia says:

    I can definitely see RG in a Renault powered F1 car in 2012. Maybe Williams? I’d love to see what Senna can do. If his qualifying form in Spa is anything to go by he will prove an exciting challenge for Vitaly.

    I think some level if testing needs to come back to develop these future champions in F1 machinery.

  9. Jonathan De Andrade says:

    Hi James,

    You have mentioned you heard good feedback from engineers about Romain’s speed and the general level. I wonder, how would engineers rate Bruno Sena, based on his data of course.
    Cheers

  10. Stephan says:

    Several options for Grosjean (LRGP, Williams, Team Lotus (as Trulli did not exercise his contract option on 30/7) and even Force India.

    Well they are a lot of French drivers coming. Toro Rosso with Jean-Eric Vergne (I think one with a lot of potential, for me more than Riccardo)

    Then we have Charles Pic, a lot of money behind him from his family and the Lagardère team who also wants to prove something.

    And then Jules Bianchi (Ferrari)

    Seems to be interesting.

  11. legend465 says:

    We’ve had situations of drivers being highly rated by engineers and it has gone boths ways. Two team mates of Webbers give a good contrast.

    Antonio Pizzonia was very highly rated by engineers. He was teamed up with Mark Webber in Jaguar and was completely blitzed. He was later again teamed up with Webber at Williams making up lies that Jaguar had given him inferior equipment, and that now with equal equipment he was going to blitz Webber. His blatant lies prompted Webber to call him a wanker. Surprise, surprise, he was once again blitzed by Webber.

    Seb Vettel had ratings thru the roof in lower formulae. He backed this up with some great performances in his first couple of seasons of
    F1 and won a race with Toro Rosso!

    He was widely tipped to smash Mark Webber. I actually tipped Mark Webber to smash Vettel. What is apparent is they are two closely matched drivers on tracks where Mark is good at. At some circuits such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi Vettel excels.

    Vettel is also a considerably smarter man than Webber, in the sense he understands telemetry and strategy far, far better. Much as Rosberg is also a smart man. Got to hand it to the Germans.

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