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What a difference a year makes: “First-lap nutcase” Grosjean praised by Webber
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Grosjean XPB
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Nov 2013   |  3:31 pm GMT  |  103 comments

There couldn’t be a more graphic transformation of a driver’s fortunes than those of Romain Grosjean who was praised by Mark Webber after Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, a year after Webber called the Frenchman a “first-lap nutcase” for a series of first and second lap incidents.

At the time, Webber described Grosjean’s driving as “embarrassing” after the Lotus driver T-boned the Red Bull in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. However, Lotus kept faith in Grosjean and despite a difficult start to this season, the Frenchman has come good.

Second place in Austin, Texas, having held off a determined Webber for much of the race, was his fourth podium in five races and sixth in total in the season.

Grosjean’s confidence is building all the time, especially since it emerged that he would be the number one driver at the team next season following Kimi Raikkonen’s departure to Ferrari. That has been reflected on the track, where he is arguably Vettel’s closest challenger at the moment.

Speaking about Grosjean, Webber told BBC Radio 5 live: “As a competitor and fellow colleague, it’s nice to earn each other’s respect. Obviously last year, he didn’t have much because of the way he was driving. He was making a lot of mistakes in practice and a lot of contact in the races. Now it’s a different ball game.

“He’s putting a weekend together which starts on Friday and not just a few good times on Friday followed by a crash, a good qualifying lap then out on the first corner in the race. So hopefully for him, those days are over and he can have a good career as he’s had a tough start but he’s come out the other side.”

Grosjean said: “Last year wasn’t a nice time. I was the first one who wasn’t happy with myself and it doesn’t help when you’re reading in the press or other drivers are blaming you for things you don’t like to do. But then I worked hard, it’s no secret I have a psychologist. I really like the work we do and I think I’m a better man and a better driver.

“It’s nice to hear (good things) from them (the other drivers) but mainly I’m proud of what I have done. In tough circumstances, if I had lost confidence, I would have given up, but I didn’t. Even the start of this year was tough, but I managed to turn the situation around. I’m sure the race win will come.”

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier says Grosjean is maturing as a driver and should be considered as one of the front-runners.

“We’ve always known Romain is super fast, actually maybe too fast, and sometimes too fast for his car,” said Boullier. “Having some completeness with his family [he became a dad for the first time earlier this year] has helped him reach another level of confidence, and then you see the results on track.

“He is starting to be a damned good driver. I think you can rate him in the top three or four today. He started to perform well from Germany onwards. There was still a bit finetuning needed on his side, but he has had a very fine second half of the season.

“Now he will start next year in a different mood, and we will have a different perspective from him. [The change] is a combination between him [Raikkonen] leaving and his personal life being settled, which brought him a lot of confidence. That was maybe the kick he needed to take off.”

The JA on F1 2013 year book is now available to pre-order. It is a large format paperback, with a Foreword by David Coulthard and featuring stunning photography from Darren Heath. It retails at £10-99.

Every copy ordered through this site will be personally signed by me. Copies will be despatched on December 7th in plenty of time for Christmas. To order yours and to be sure of getting a copy click on this link: JA on F1 2013 Book

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103 Comments
  1. Mansell Mania says:

    It wasn’t until recently that Grosjean and Maldonado were thought of the two loose cannons in F1, smashing into anything and everything.

    You just have to look at this weekend to see how far the two drivers have come on campartively. Maldonado fighting it out way down the order, compnlaing that the team are nobbling his car, and Grosjean not only splitting the dominant Red Bull cars but being some distance in front of both Hamilton and Alonso.

    Is Grosjean about to be joining the “elite” drivers club of Ham, Alo, Vet and Kim? (well I guess you’d class Vet in a division on his own now!)

    1. dimitris says:

      The jury is still out on Grosjean, in my opinion, even though his improvement over last year is miraculous. Lotus is the second fastest car on the grid right now, especially after the Renault engine mappings, and perfectly suited to his style of driving. If he continues on the same form next year, then we can safely say that he deserves to be included in the elite category of top drivers.
      Vettel is not in a class of his own, he is obviously the best at the moment, but I would want to see how he fares against Kimi, Fernardo and Lewis in an equally competitive car. He will probably win, but he will certainly not dominate.

      1. No, the jury has given his verdict. You might not be convinced but he is putting weekends together as Mark said.

        Just look at how he positioned his car and defended from Webber who had a faster car. And it’s not a one-off, he’s been consistent for quite a few races now, being on the podium more often than not.

        I think he might need a win to silence his doubters but he is the real deal, much like he was in his final GP2 season.

      2. Dave P says:

        Totally agree…. The press corp love to jump on the bandwagon… I am not saying he is not going to make it… but all this ‘He’s as good as Senna’ is claptrap… When he is in a not so good car or in an average car in the middle of the pack is the time to judge not when he is in the second car…

      3. Jeremy J says:

        I think the jury is still out – I want to see it repeated across two different seasons to be sure it’s not just a confluence of events in his favour. Although my suspicion is that it’s genuine.

    2. Jimbo says:

      A few years ago Seb was the ‘crash kid’. Now look at him.

      As for Ham and Alonso being part of today’s elite I think you are showing your age!

      1. Marcras says:

        Is that the Alonso that just came second in the championship in an absolute dog of a ferrari?!

      2. Rob Newman says:

        Dog of a Ferrari? A car which has won races this year? What an insult to the car!

      3. dimitris says:

        I do not know if you mean that I am too old or too young, but I have been following F1 since 1966. I never called Vettel a crash kid, I always felt he would be among the F1 greats, not just among the current elite. I did not also call Grosjean a crash kid, he has genuine speed, but speed alone is not sufficient. I feel, however, that he lacks that something extra great drivers have that could propel him to the elite class of drivers. But, I may be wrong, I have been wrong in the past about drivers who surprise us all plesantly.

      4. All revved-up says:

        True points table gives a clue to the top drivers, and their number twos.

        Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi.

        Webber, Rosberg and Grosjean are strong number twos. Fast but slightly inconsistent.

        Massa is a weak number two. Fast but inconsistent.

      5. Kimi4WDC says:

        This.

      6. BigHaydo says:

        Not to play devil’s advocate, but perhaps since team orders have become permissible from 2011, this might be by design? Webber, Rosberg, Grosjean and Massa are all very fast race drivers, and on their days could well be unbeatable, but sometimes I wonder if the gaps to their respective lead drivers are exaggerations? Look how well Grosjean has come on since Kimi through his lot into Ferrari…

      7. Basil says:

        Almost funny, but not really.

    3. John in SD says:

      Even when Grosjean was crashing with a similar frequency to Maldonado in 2012, I never felt that he was malicious, simply over exuberant. It’s great to see him now putting it all together. Hopefully, his first win won’t be far off.

    4. Random 79 says:

      “Is Grosjean about to be joining the “elite” drivers club of Ham, Alo, Vet and Kim?”

      For my money, yes.

      He’s always been fast but now he’s fast and reliable – the perfect combination.

      If Lotus manage to give him a good car next year watch it come alive :)

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        “Fast and reliable” – by what standard exactly? Bringing half the points for two seasons in a row?

        Grosjean owes his life to Boulier, if not for him his comeback would be over.

        I can’t imagine how much image and sponsor damage was done making excuses for keeping Grosjean on board.

      2. Random 79 says:

        By the standards of learning from the first season and not crashing in the second season.

        Maybe some of Lotus’ sponsors lost some faith last year but Eric never did. Maybe at the time it was a foolish decision to keep Grosjean but regardless of anything else I think he should be admired for sticking by his driver.

        And as for their image and sponsor damage?

        The only ones responsible for that are Lotus themselves for the way they’ve been conducting themselves recently – if anything, Grosjean’s recent form is the only thing apart from Maldonado’s PDVSA money that might save them :)

      3. zootrees says:

        Well put, I totally agree. Last season I felt bad that he kept crashing, even when he was at fault. He showed remorse and sadness after crashes, and alway looked on the edge of being great.

    5. Dave C says:

      As that Quantum bloke was saying to Martin Brundle on Sunday, Lotus has now got the best driver on the grid at Lotus, its just that RBR has an alien driving their car.
      I do agree Vettel is in a league of his own and Grosjean is as good as anyone out there right now, he’s certainly faster than Raikkonen but the racecraft and consistency has been lacking but right now he’s improved to the point of being the elite out there and the only driver to challenge Vettel. In fact I’d say Hulknberg and Grosjean has replaced Alonso and Hamilton as the top drivers of F1, but Vettel is just out of this world much in the same way as Senna and Clark.

      1. Elie says:

        Raikkonen out qualified him as recently as Abu Dhabi.- and we all know that Kimi usually saves it for the race..So you are certainly not right in what you say

    6. deancassady says:

      Gros, that’s the crucial issue here, grow(ing), and getting better.
      After coming through the storm of criticism, much of it baseless, through last year, and continuing this year, competing head-to-head with one of the elite in the sport, Grosjean has come through the other side, apparently stronger.
      As per my previous comments over the past three months, Grosjean has consistently been the closest challenging the (currently) peerless Vettel-Red Bull package.

      But, he’s not there, in the elite group, yet.
      First of all, it requires winning at least one WDC, and less obvious, it requires a certain ruthlessness, a commitment, think of Kimi cutting Grosjean off as he exited the pits, or Alonso’s pit exit in in Abu Dhabi, Vettel by Webber in Malaysia, Hamilton stuffing it to the two-time WDC; no, Grosjean is not there yet, but maybe by next year.
      I’ve been saying for over five races that I expected Grosjean to get to the top step of the podium, before the year is out; (maybe a problem for Vettel in Brazil?)
      Let’s see.

      1. Yak says:

        I’d say the overtake on Massa in Hungary was fairly committed.

      2. It doesn’t always require a WDC it didn’t for Sir Stirling Moss or Gilles Villeneuve, they were world class drivers and both the best in the World before their accidents (Sir Stirlings ending his career and Gilles’ being fatal).

      3. deancassady says:

        Point well-taken.
        Yet, these valid examples represent the extreme exceptions, and Grosjean is clearly NOT in the same category as (either) Villeneuve nor Moss, non?

        He’s on a good trajectory, but there are so many variables to succeed at, including a car with consistent potential, and yet some growth and improvement, along the way.

    7. Lindsay says:

      “It wasn’t until recently that Grosjean and Maldonado were thought of the two loose cannons in F1″

      Do you actually mean “It was only recently that…”?

  2. Rodrigo Martins says:

    Right now i don`t think Kimi would do a better job than Grosjean. He’s doing a great job in qualify and a sweet pace in the race.
    Deserves a win. and soon!

  3. Sri says:

    Grosjean has improved a lot. It shows what a driver can achieve with team’s backing and focus. Massa could have done much better if Ferrari did the same. But they want to pander to Alonso’s ego and well they got what they wanted: Alonso on the top regardless of what happens to Massa.

    I also wonder what Boullier’s top-3/top-4 drivers would be if Grosjean is one of them in his list. I can easily think of Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton as top-4 (not in that order necessarily). So where would Grosjean fit in and according to Boullier he is better than at least two of the above 4 drivers. I’m guessing he thinks he is better than Raikkonen and Hamilton! Well that is his opinion.

    1. Dave C says:

      Well Raikkonen doesn’t have Grosjean’s raw speed it was his race consistency that made him stand out as a top driver but as they say its easier to make a fast driver consistent than a consistently slow driver fast. But Grosjean has fast become a complete driver now, in this form only Vettel is better, it’ll be intersting if Lotus can provide a strong enough next year, if they can then Grosjean can be RBR’s main challenger, Alonso and Hamilton are fading and I think Hulkenberg could beat them right now.

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        Seriously, what raw speed? Do you mean that Grosjean can hold a better concentration over one lap? And still come out even with Kimi? Or his raw speed comes from being less consistent and on demand performance (fast laps) during the race?

        Please have and broader view on things rather what media feeds you.

      2. James Allen says:

        GRO has always been very fast, the problem was hot-headedness, impetuosity and lack of judgement on risk and distance

        He seems to have got control mentally now, without losing speed, which is impressive

        Since Kimi announced he was off to Ferrari Grosjean has scored 75 points in 5 races – an average of 15 points, or 3rd place at every race

      3. Sri says:

        In race, Raikkonen has upper hand. What you say about Grosjean about “raw pace” is true for quali that too partially. When Raikkonen has everything according to his style, he was untouchable (early season) in quali also. It would have been nice to see what he could have done with short wheelbase car in these races. He did better than Grosjean in Abu Dhabi in quali with the short wheelbase car. So I think Raikkonen still has upper hand over Grosjean, but Grosjean will only improve in future.

      4. How can you call Kimi slow? He has the 3rd most fastest laps in history (not far off 2nd) and used to be nicknamed fastest driver on the planet? Please go and watch his pole lap at Silverstone in 2004, he is on another level.

    2. Basil says:

      As his manager, he has an agenda (raising market value).

  4. Fireman says:

    Grosjean certainly has done good races recently, but he still likes to whine on the radio when things go wrong for him in the race. He’s gained some confidence, but still needs massive nurturing from the team. I think that’s just how he is and that will never change. Similar to Massa.

    Maybe win a few races first and we’ll see if he has what it takes.

    1. CYeo says:

      When told the pressurised air was leaking from his car during the Singapore GP, there was a particluar noise in reply.

      Couldn’t be sure it was the air leaking or Grosjean over the radio.

  5. JF says:

    Good to see. The really fast guys all seem to go through these phases of crashing, Vettel and Hamilton did a few years back, and they seemed to come out OK. Massa was pretty wild in his early years.

    1. Sri says:

      Interestingly the old stalwarts Alonso and Raikkonen did not go through that phase. Maybe these crash kids have this “push over the limit” ingrained in them and once they get over the weaknesses they are fast and really fast which shows up in quali. In race, of course the oldies come into their own comfort zone and in fact do better than these newbies.

      1. JF says:

        Yeah: Alonso and Raikonnen I would consider to be a bit less aggressive particularly in during starts and early race phases. Perhaps less impulsive/reactionary is better way to put it, since both have pulled of some gutsy moves over the years. I don’t remember them ever being all that wild, Raikonnen seemed to break cars at Mclaren, but that may have been more the cars than him.

  6. AuraF1 says:

    It’s interesting about the fatherhood thing – a lot of drivers hold off becoming parents as they fear that sense of responsibility might cause them to back off at a critical moment. I know Jenson and others have specifically said they would never have children until their F1 careers come to an end. Think someone much better with words than me once said, ‘children give you a sense of immortality whilst reminding you of your own mortality’.

    I guess for Grosjean he simply had no sense of responsibility and perhaps this kicked into him a newfound respect for life and patience?

    Also good to hear Webber praise Grosjean. I think he deserved the abuse last year but seeing his face when he heard Webber’s description of him was like watching someone kick a puppy…

  7. Stig says:

    I really do not know, if you should name Vet and the asturian thimblerigger in one class…
    But what I do know is, that Lotus made big efforts on developing the car during the season when other teams like Ferrari already stopped the development. With the small budget of Lotus this will be awful for next season and when Grosjean has to start again in the middle of the grid with a car that does not outperform all others in tire endurance, we will see another, maybe third face of him.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      Who said Ferrari has stopped development? They are still fighting for 2nd in the championship and according to Luca di Montezemolo, they have not given up on car development yet. It is the drivers’ development which has stagnated.

    2. Jimbob says:

      Or… he’ll take off and show his class ;) I really think he is up there with the best of them, lets face it he’s always been quicker than Kimi when he’s been on form and he seems to be on form all the time now. And Kimi could never be accused of being slow.

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        How again did you come to that conclusion? By Grosjean having half the points?

        If Lotus were not relying on Kimi getting all their point they would have been in much better financial situation and their image with sponsors would been much better, instead they giving false hope and promises (for two years).

        Fact is if Boullier was not Grosjean’s manager, Grosjean would be out of F1 for second time.

        I wish him luck, but until he starts having really extraordinary performances and not just a good looking drives compare to his horrible antics in the past, I can’t even put him next to a top driver for comparison.

      2. Jana says:

        Kimi4WDC you seem to be a bit upset about people raving about Grosjean.
        Yes Kimi still has more points for the season, but if you look at the 2nd half, only Vettel has scored more points out the last however many races, a significant achievement no matter how shocking your first half of the season was. If he was performing like this in the first half he would have been about level, or better than Kimi.

        [mod]

      3. Jimbob says:

        See JA’s response to your mutterings further up. Grosjean IS faster than Kimi, just wasn’t anywhere near as consistent until recently.

  8. Steve says:

    Grosjean and Maldonado were always different tho. Grosjean looked humble and upset after making mistakes. Maldonado always was defensive making out it was the others fault and saying ‘it was a hard race for ME…’….

    1. Simmo says:

      +1.

      Last year I remember saying on this site that it was a completely different attitude towards it.

      Maldonado was careless and disrespectful, Grosjean was clumsy, but still showed sorrow and respect.

  9. Dmitry says:

    Looks like one race ban really helped after all! And I am not ashamed to agree that Romain is really good this year, well at least in the second half!
    I can’t agree he is in the “Elite”, but he is really good, if given proper machine he will be a serious contender.

    What can’t be said of Maldonado… curiously, he didn’t have a ban… also his “lifetime ban” from participating in Monaco was paid off by his father… so this one clearly doesn’t know how to stand up for his actions.

    1. Hendo says:

      Wow! I never heard that before… Very interesting, especially Hugo Chavez getting involved to push for the lifetime ban to be commuted to a big fine.

  10. Mikeboy0001 says:

    Even if both Grosjean and Maldonado had incidents, personally I never placed them in the same basket
    Grosjean crashes seemed to come more from clumsiness and lack of spacial awareness from a nervous state of mind. At the end of the GP’s he genuinely seemed downbeat and frustrated
    Maldonado, on the other hand, was always arrogant, ruthless and never ever with a sense he’d done something wrong, blaming other people
    I really dislike this guy, and hope he doesn’t get a drive in 2014, or ever for that matter.
    He thinks he’s the real deal, when in reality, he’s just an arrogant and intolerable man, with no sense of sportsmanship, and below average driver
    Please show him the exit door ASAP
    P.S.- I think Claire Williams was too soft and benevolent with Maldonado’s behavior after qualifying, it was almost like if she was his manager.
    William’s needs a firmer hand in the Team

    1. Simmo says:

      +1. Exactly my views on their incidents

    2. +1 for the primary obsrvations.

      An alternate view of Williams’ approach might indicate a level of class evident in the events. Isn’t it possible, perhaps, that she’s just a better person?

      1. Mikeboy0001 says:

        Maybe you are right
        Unfortunately I don’t see much of Frank’s spirit in Claire. To Claire is business, to Frank was passion
        I truly hope I’m wrong on this, tough!!!

      2. James Allen says:

        Interesting observation

      3. TGS says:

        I agree, I thought she handled it very well.

    3. Joel says:

      +1 – you took the words off my mouth :)

  11. Andrew Carter says:

    The change in Grosjean this year has been remarkable, particularly when you consider the woeful performance he put in at Monaco. If Red Bull hadn’t stolen such a march on everybody during the second half of the season I think he would have won a couple races already. lets hope next years Lotus is good enough for him to get the first win.

  12. Phil Glass says:

    A driver can have a good run of races, but until he makes champion or is a proven race winner, can we really regard him as a “top” driver?

    Eric has designated GRO as the number 1 in the team next year. He has forgotten that Kimi did not ask to be number 1, he earned that status by results. Lets wait and see if GRO can deliver.

    At least, lets wait till he has managed to win a race

    1. deancassady says:

      Hopefully we’ll see a really tight battle between Grosjean and the other star of the second half of 2013, Hulkenberg.
      Failing the Hulkenberg deal, Perez would be a decent challenge and competitor with Grosjean; I’m hoping we haven’t seen the last of Perez.

  13. Glennb says:

    Classy words from Webber after tearing Romain a new one last year. Credit where it’s due.
    One wonders who *are* Mr Boullier’s top 3 or 4?
    It’s a shame we aren’t seeing just how good some of the drivers really are. I think there would be several changes to the pecking order if they were given real racing rubber to drive on. Not a Pirelli bash but a FIA ‘directive’ bash.
    I think Romain would acquit himself well. I’d love to see F1 racing on real rubber again. I might even be tempted to jump the fence and follow Hamilton. The guy is awesome when they take the shackles off ;)

  14. Richard says:

    I think Grosjean was just a little bit too eager last year, now it’s a case of put brain into gear before we do anything stupid. Perhaps Boullier is right in that he was driving faster than he could think which is dangerous as control is lost. So now I think he is a bit more measured about how he goes about things. He’s a nice guy and I hope he continues in the upward direction, but as with Vettel much of it can be attributed to the characteristics of the car.

  15. Juan V says:

    Seb in a division of his own? Come on, Vettel has the fortune of having the best car, and he has been driving it for four years now! It is Red Bull who is dominating F1 as Ferrari did in the early 2000. You could put Ham, Alo, or Rai in the car and we would see a similar domination. I´m still not convinced of his capability because he has only been driving the (by far) fastest car on the grid. Of course he deserves the succes he is enjoying and he is doing it well, but he is not the best driver, he is just one of the top four mega stars in F1. It is interensting that allthough he is winning everything right now people are still questioning if he is the best driver currently in F1. Some are still pointing out Alonso as the best, this shows the it is not always the amount of gp victories and championships that defines who the best driver is…..

    1. Jimbo says:

      I guess you are right, Red Bull is the fastest car at the moment. But whether Seb is the fastest driver, who knows?

      One thing is for sure, it sure isn’t Lewis. Research has clearly shown that Max Chiltern would have won the WDC in 2008 in that McLaren, brute of a car that it was. And, best of all, he’d have won it by two points rather than one!

    2. Tim says:

      Hamilton might blast away from the field in a Red Bull but he’d toast it in 30 laps. Alonso in another 10. The Red Bull is about as on the edge as you can get and still roll. That’s why they fought tooth and nail for more durable tires. Webber is no animal behind the wheel and even he still has had problems getting it across the line.

  16. Will says:

    Nice work Grosjean, can you make us a favor and give your psychologist’s card to Maldonado ?

  17. Stickymart says:

    Genuinely pleased for him. His mistakes last year were probably exhuberence so it’s good to see him getting results now having turned it all around. It must have taken a lot of guts to put the negetive comments behind him and move on. If anything this will make next season even more exciting, the quality of the drivers on offer is pretty vast, if the new regulations set any tech advantages back to zero the title could be wide open rather than another Red Bull walkover. I sincerely hope so.

    1. Juan V says:

      I definetily hope so, because this season is one of the most boring seasons in many years. This is quite a pity considering the calibre of the world champions in the F1-grid. I have not been following the last three or four Gp because there is no exitment. To have one driver dominating like Vettel is doing is boring and in my eyes it doesn´t make him look better. What I mean is that his domination just consolidate the fact that it´s the car making the diffenrence. Because there is no way that he is so much better the Alo, Rai, or Ham…I have nothing against him winning, if only he could have a competition. But one driver winning eight gps in row is not very interesting when there is no opposition. Imagine him winning all those gps with stiff competetion or at least whith some racing involved, than there would be no questions about him being the best…..

      1. Rockie says:

        Isn’t it funny after Hamilton won in Hungary you were one of those that thought he could win the next nine races at the time, but you didn’t think that would be boring then?

      2. Juan V says:

        Hamilton is not my favourite driver and if he or anyone else was dominating like RedBull is doing my opinion would be the same. F1 is all about machinery and unfortunately sometimes this variable is the strongest factor making the difference, and this year more than ever before. If Alonso, Ham, or Rai were driving the redbull than we would have seen the same kind of domination. So, to be prosperous in F1 you need to be in the right place at the right time, and thats exactly what has happened to Vettel. When he wins with a margin of 30 sec and when he managed to even lap Alonso, may reaction is not him being a superdriver, it just consolidate the fact that RedBull has produced the best F1 car for yet another year. This of course doesnt mean that Vettel isn´t a good driver or that he is not doing a perfect job. But if you are an experience F1-viewer you ought to see the difference of what its deciding the races. To the less exeprience viewer Vettel is the best but thats just a mirage and not core reality…

      3. Rockie says:

        The key operating word IF as Murray says is F1 written backwards.
        I doubt they would as most people from the Martin Brundle school of thought thinks all you need is drop any driver in the redbull and they would dominate listening to fans one would think Redbull has only 1 driver.
        ” But if you are an experience F1-viewer you ought to see the difference of what its deciding the races. To the less exeprience viewer Vettel is the best but thats just a mirage and not core reality”
        I quote Murray again the less intelligent viewers don’t understand what they are watching that’s why the can’t believe what they are seeing Vettel is the real deal son wake up and smell the coffee, not even Alonso is close to Max from qualifying to race every race weekend but Vettel is he’s always there or thereabout.
        Food for thought !

      4. Juan V says:

        Of course you can’t just put in any driver in the red bull, but as i allready wrote you can put in alo, ham, or Rai and get the same results. But it is very easy to keep doing what vettel is doing when you have a car that’s allmost a second faster….that’s a huge gap that sort of masks your errors. That’s somthing that the others driver don’t have.
        Vettel is a champion, but only one of the four super drivers in F1….The superiority of the car makes him look so much better…..

  18. Paul D says:

    I rated Grosjean last year to be honest.

    Showed superb speed, just lacked racecraft which you’d expect in someone’s first season.

    The important thing is raw pace, you can learn the rest.

  19. Andrew M says:

    “We’ve always known Romain is super fast, actually maybe too fast”

    Hmmmm…..

  20. Hoovie says:

    Grosjean has really turned himself around when it could have been so easy to have given up.
    And kudos to Lotus to sticking by him, giving him a bit of tough love for sure, but recognising his talent AND underlying character.
    (And every finger crossed that Maldonado doesn’t get a seat as he represents all the bad traits of an driver)

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I don’t know how it’s any good for Lotus. If Lotus had someone capable of scoring as many points as Kimi they would have been 2nd in WCC no questions asked.

  21. james a says:

    No doubting hes got the talent and going to lead the team next year , thats why lotus would be daft to take the hulk . I hate pastor as much as anybody but they have got to pick him , brings alot of money and he is a race winner . Its sad that hulk will get overlooked just because of money but its a business and if i were in charge id take pastor money and give roman a fighting chance .

    1. TGS says:

      I wonder if there would be a condition in there about not favouring Romain though. Can Lotus take his money and relegate Maldonado to number 2 after clearly stating that Kimi and Romain were equals all year long?

      1. james a says:

        Hmmm good point . Pastor would as you say spit his dummy out if he was number 2 and to be fair to the lad when hes not bumping in to someone or opening his trap he is a talent . Be very interesting what hes like in a car that can fight for wins , he could well show romain up !

  22. j says:

    It’s nice to see the improvement in Grosjean. He might be nearing the top of the mid-pack of drivers these days but let’s not overrate him too much based on one recent result.

    The sidebar of this site provides a great reference. Even with Kimi out for two races, and even if Grosjean wins the Brazilian GP with all the other top 10 drivers crashing out in a Spa ’98 style pile-up he’d still be stuck in 7th in the standings with Kimi in 4th or 5th. (I’m predicting that Rosberg won’t win the next race, mark it down lol)

  23. Peter says:

    To put my feelings in a nutshell from what I’ve seen (which I do know is filtered by the media!) Grosjean seems like a pleasant, good humoured and talented driver whose made some early mistakes.

    Maldonado frankly doesn’t tick any of those boxes! If he didn’t have the sponorship I can’t imagine any of the teams considering him.

  24. Kimi4WDC says:

    The contrast of his worse performances indeed make his normal day at work look like a miracle.

  25. Sujith says:

    Vettel was called the crash KID earlier and look how he is now. Romain Grosjean can become a major contender in the future. Lets see how he goes. But, without doubt, I think he has to be rated up there to the likes of Hamilton even better than him for that matter..

  26. gpfan says:

    What the heck did I post in the race report?
    I want royalties, James Allen!

    Well done, Romain, and good for all of the
    pilotes. TY for entertaining us.

    Please, my Presbyterian Deity, please get
    shot of Maldonado and Chilton. Oh. And that
    Caterham guy. And, since I am praying: what
    about a Rubhino ‘One-Shot’ in Brazil for
    Williams, as was suggested earlier?

    That is all.

  27. luqa says:

    Mark is getting soft as he ends his F1 career. Praising his nemesis Seb, and now Romain! What gives? If he weren’t putting in great drives over the past 5 races or so, I say he was getting old! ;-)

  28. C Lin says:

    Grosjean, the new superstar! ~ Boullier/Lotus

  29. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – I was listening to the BBC podcast and your analysis last night. Could you or Professor Gillan shed some insight as to which teams are actively developing this year’s car?

    I have a theory that this year has flattered Vettel due to the quirk that is 2013 (ie impending change of regulations). That is, a lot of the teams shut off development early or due to budget issues, preferred to spend their money on next year’s car (as it will be the base for the next 5 odd years) rather than on this year (being the last of the current era). On top of that, we have other usual top teams fumbling (McLaren) or building for 2014 (Mercedes) or out of money (Lotus). Therefore could it be said that Red Bull has been more dominant that would otherwise be the case in a “normal” year? That doesn’t explain Webber’s form in comparison to Seb’s, but it could explain why Red Bull have been so far in front this year.

  30. Luke Clements says:

    Hi James, a bit unrelated..but with Webber retiring this week was hoping we could see an article from yourself on some of his best drives? I’m sure the Monaco 2010 race would be up there but from an insider like yourself, you might be aware of some other special races where he excelled, even if he didn’t win?
    Silverstone 2010 was my personal favourite. And I still think he takes title for best F1 pass ever on Alonso at Spa (2011?)

    Cheers

  31. K says:

    People are exaggerating, Grosjean is decent, nothing more.

    He hasn’t shown anything that would mark him as special. Defending against cars that have lower top speeds than his on tracks that you can’t overtake on is nothing special.

    I think Maldonado would drive circles around Grosjean. [mod]

  32. Elie says:

    Yeah I’m guessing being a dad and sensing opportunity as a number 1 driver is really helping Romain settle as is a boss who’s your manager also!.

    You have to admire someone that turns their talents around and that just what Romain has done. But anyone thinking he is quicker than Raikkonen is getting a wee bit carried away. Kimi was faster at Abu Dhabi even when he had every reason not to even be there. Kimi has struggled with an under steering car which everyone knows he doesn’t like. Despite this and back problems ( things he never even mentioned)he has finished on the podium more often than not. We can only guess where he would be now with getting on top of the tyres over one lap &a car set up that actually works for him. So for those thinking Grosjean is faster than everyone bar Seb– why is it Kimi out qualied him.. Or do the same people forget he was also beaten 8/3 before summer brake in quali.

    Romains done a good job in a great car. He’s not a great driver yet and some of the drivers many pundits are comparing him to now were winning races regularly at the same age with similarly competitive cars.Grosjean has not won one yet- He may soon be too if Lotus build a fast car next year. But he has yet to show me he is an intelligent opportunist on track and that does not resonate as a great champion. I would much prefer talking about Bianci or Bottas as the next big things and I honestly think these are the guys that may yet foil Romains chances of greatness

    1. Mike Martin says:

      +1 well said.

    2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      In addition, no one knows what influence the car development has had. Perhaps he hasn’t necessarily gotten better at driving, but that the car suits him better. That would flatter his performances. Look at Perez for example – in the Sauber he drove well, but at McLaren (arguably a better team, despite the perception of this year’s car) he has struggled. Webber could also be in this category.

      Therefore I find any discussion of a driver useless without also looking at the characteristics of the car he’s in.

      1. Elie says:

        Spot in. Did you notice what happened when Kimi switched back to the short wheel base for Abu Dhabi, he was faster all weekend and quali. Pity he didn’t race Austin/ Abu Dahbi because he worked out the best set up for him on those tyres at last!

      2. Elie says:

        I meant Brazil not Abu Dhabi – although it was a pity he was moved back from 4th because he was a certain chance from there !

  33. German Samurai says:

    If Webber didn’t crash in Valencia and Korea in 2010 (both times his fault), he would be a world champion.

    When he made those mistakes in 2010 it was his 9th season in F1. It was Vettel’s 3rd third full season in F1, yet people will constantly bring up his crash with Button at Spa from that year (despite Alonso also crashing out of the same race through no fault but his own).

  34. Chris Ralph says:

    Grosjean is a Ferrari driver. A natural fit of man and machine – a bit like a modern day Gilles. Two years max before the Scuderia snaffles him.

  35. Ben says:

    I think it’s very interesting that he has come out and said that he has a psychologist. My understanding is that very few drivers have psychologist (or at least admit it) compared to other top sports but it is a sport where people probably need it more. F1 is a very macho sport and I think most drivers see it as a sign of weakness. I believe Hamilton is in desperate need of a sports psychologist and would help him a lot but it appears (from his fb posts) that he is looking to god instead.

    Does anyone know who else (admits) to having a psychologist? Do any of the teams have one to solve any disputes between drivers? Should Red Bull have got one to ease the relationship between Mark and Seb?

  36. Sut says:

    I admit I slated this guy last year but am pleased he seems to have turned things around. He reminds me of Mika Hakkinen, who was a nutter early on (was it at Hockenheim that Irvine described his moves as another typical Hakkinen chop), but was able to translate raw speed into smooth driving.
    It’s a bit early to say if Romain is as good as Mika but the pattern is similar at this stage of his career. He also seems personable and genuine in the ilk of Button. I wish him well, he could teach Maldonado a thing or two. On that point, I reckon Williams should have kept Rubens another year, he would have been more consistent over a season.

  37. Roth says:

    Regardless of the drivers I am a fan of and vice versa.

    What is the point of scrutinizing driver comparisions so closely if they aren’t in equal equipment?

    If you were to give them all identical cars I’d expect Ham, Alo, Rai, Web, But to be at the top. This is too experience and ability to actually race. Bets prob on Ham as I don’t think he has lost his pre and early F1 ability to overtake you upside down, sideways or backwards.

    Mas, Ros, Vet. Are toss ups in that they have shown top drive at some point in the last 5 years and have experience above the rest. Obviously Vet is a fav for this group.

    Then frankly Per, Sut, Mal, Pic, VDG, and Chi are worthless in comparision. They either never shined or seem to be uncapable to ever shine in any form.

    Everyone unlisted will get there in time or maybe are and just haven’t gotten reliability luck or the car. Hul, DiR, Gro, Ric, Bot, Bia come to mind.

  38. Anne says:

    Sure Grosjean has been impressive recently. And that´s good for him and Lotus.

    I´d like to know what Lotus have done to improve the car. Lotus is out there upfront with the Red Bull cars. What have Lotus done that neither Ferrari nor Mercedes could do? I mean Lotus has a small budget and they always struggle with money. But the car is competitive.

    1. German Samurai says:

      They’ve had a strong car all season. They won the first race of the season. Mid-point of the year they were the fastest car in Germany (yet Vettel still hung on to win despite Lotus splitting their strategies).

      I think both drivers have under-performed in qualifying and there has been a lot of poor strategy at times from the Lotus pit wall.

  39. Mats Furskog says:

    He should be thankful Kimi was hauling points while himself kept crashing left/right/centre! Without a point scorer like Kimi he’d be sacked long ago!
    Now I believe Romain will be a megafast F1 driver!! Very likeable chapter too! Good for F1!

  40. Miro says:

    I guess I’m the only one who rates Maldonado higher than Romain. He certainly improved from last season (and is more likeable), but I have a feeling that Alonso would be winning races in that Lotus.

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