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Romain Grosjean: “psychologist helped me become a better F1 driver, father and man”
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Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  11 Apr 2016   |  9:52 pm GMT  |  52 comments

Romain Grosjean has admitted that he needed to consult a psychologist in the darkest moments of his accident-prone early career and he credits the specialist for improving his Formula 1 performances and maturing his approach to driving and to life.

The French driver is the latest online instructor for SAFEisFAST.com, an online driver development programme for the Road Racing Drivers Club, and he answered questions submitted by a number of motorsport fans.

Grosjean was famously handed a one-race ban after triggering the first corner crash at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2012 and he was involved in a number of lap one incidents that season. Mark Webber described him as a ‘first lap nutcase’.

XPB.cc Romain Grosjean Spa 2012

But the Haas F1 driver, who has also competed for Renault and Lotus during his 85-race Grand Prix career, explained in an answer to one question that he has been using a psychologist to analyse his decision making process since the crash at Spa.

Grosjean feels that that process has improved him both as a driver and as a man, the results of which can be seen in his podium finishes for Lotus in 2013 and 2015, as well as his recent run of points finishes for Haas F1.

He said: “[In 2012] I was very quick. I would sometimes make the wrong judgement at the first turn of a race. That judgement takes two or three tenths of a second. They key questions was to understand, why?

Japanese Grand Prix 2012 Romain Grosjean

“Why was I making the wrong decision? Why was I compromising my race and other people’s race at the first corner? From there I moved on. It was quite interesting for me to go through that process. It was a tough time but I learned a lot and it’s helped get me to where I am today.

“I’ve been seeing a psychologist since September 2012 and Spa-Francorchamps. It has helped me a lot to become a better driver, a better father and a better man.

“We use engineers to set-up the car and we use coaches to improve our physical performance. Why wouldn’t you use a psychologist to improve your brain and the way it works? That’s why I did it.”

XPB.cc Romain Grosjean

“Too early to be thinking about Ferrari”

One SAFEisFAST reader asked Grosjean if he would accept an offer to drive for Ferrari next year, but the 29-year-old, who is known to be seeking a drive with the Scuderia in the future, insisted that he was focused on working with Haas F1 for the time being.

He said: “It’s a bit too early to be thinking about [Ferrari]. I’m with Haas F1 Team; it’s a brand new project, which is working very well. I’m focused on making it as successful as we can.”

Romain Grosjean

“I want to try and win at Le Mans”

Grosjean’s F1 career can be divided into two chapters: his debut with Renault for seven races in 2009 and his resurgence with Lotus and now Haas F1 since 2012.

In the two years he spent out of F1 in 2010 and 2011, Grosjean drove in a number of series, which included championship wins in Auto GP and GP2, and the Frenchman also raced at Le Mans in 2010, where he drove a Ford GT for the Swiss team Matech Competition.

Grosjean’s team did not finish that event but when asked what he would like to do after his F1 career, he explained that winning the famous 24-hour race would be his number one goal.

He said: “I would like to go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I want to try to win it. I competed there in 2010 in a Ford GT and hopefully I can get back there one day.”

Romain Grosjean

What have you made of Romain Grosjean in recent years? Have his performances since 2012 and so far in 2016 impressed you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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52 comments

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1

Romain Grosjean is one the few racing drivers (and sportsmen in general) who is completely unaffected, unpretentious and doesn't have an attitude problem. Just a very pleasant man with a remarkable ability to drive quickly. And isn't he driving quickly ATM - too quick for some of his competitors.

Not all drivers had egos the size of Texas, but recently the likes of Eddie Irvine, Jacques Villeneuve, Ralfie, Montoya and even Fernando Alonso just became dreary and tiresome with their "same [expletive] different race" facade. It's not just racing drivers. The likes of Jean-Pierre Balestre, Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore are/were so narcissist they probably have/had a mirrored ceiling and leopardskin covers in their living rooms. Balestre in particular was a buffoon in a blazer who probably thought he could walk on water.

So it's refreshing to have a driver, like Jenson Button, Gerhard Berger, Mike Hailwood, Damon Hill, Rubino, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, who is a genuinely warm and amiable man who can get the job done on the track and yet still remain completely unaffected off it.

2

A correction: the name is Jean-MARIE Balestre, not Jean-Pierre

3

First class comment and so true. The very best of luck to Romain Grosjean. He has the capability to win the world championship in the right car, and may he do just that.

4

I always wonder why we find ourselves cheering for some drivers rather than some others. What qualities should be rewarded with our support? I can admire and respect the talent of many drivers (or other sportsmen), but in the end I think you have to have some form of Human connection with someone to really support them. And that's why Romain Grosjean is so refreshing, because as many pointed out, he is indeed one of the most likable guys in the paddock, displaying both real humility and real talent at his job, i.e. racing.
Then you can discuss talent, and what matters as driving abilities, and even not just driving abilities: being quick, being bold, being gentle with your car, working well with engineers, team spirit...
Anyway to me Grosjean seems to display one of the best "packages". He most probably won't break victory or championship records but if he could get a top seat, start winning and end up with a championship, I guess it would make a nice case of someone who was able to recover by questioning himself and gradually convince everyone through his talent that he has his place at the top.

5

So true, although I was always cheering for a team, rather than a driver.
Drivers come and go, so do (some of the) teams, but teams tend to stay longer.

6

Nothing wrong with seeing a shrink when you got psychological issues.
Takes a big man to put his hand up and get some help.
Go RoGro!

Can add RIC to list of all-around good guys, I think...

7

Jean-Marie Balestre, I believe.

8

Good on him, the brain is the only organ we can re-train and shape.
I hope Grosjean drives for Ferrari in the future.

9

In a competitive world where everyone wants to lay claim to being the best, it takes real courage to show weakness by admitting to not being perfect, to being flawed, and to spending time working with a psychologist.

I was very impressed with Romain when Lotus were competitive, and it's great to see him in a half-decent car this year.

10

Will be interesting to see whether he makes the step up to Ferrari as many have hinted, and how he matches up to Vettel when he's there. He's come back well from his rookie mauling at the hands of Alonso and then his issues at the start of 2012, but his performances against Kimi are looking a lot less impressive these days than they were in 2013, I can't help that, although he seems like quite a likeable guy, he's just going to get exposed at the front...

11

An Alfa-Romeo F1 Team with Hulk, and Romain, and a budget double that of Haas. What a dream!

12

Moving to an Alfa-Romeo F1 Team would, I think, be a mistake.
The only Italian F1 team that would make the drama worthwhile is Ferrari because in the end you know they have the ability to deliver a top car.
By the time Alfa-Romeo gets around to fielding an F1 team, Hass will be in at least their fourth year. Why start over again with a new team?
Besides, I think the American low key approach suits Grosjean's personality to a T.

13

Alpa-Romeo, double the budget of Hass? Very much doubt it.

14

And number 2 team to Ferrari? I dont think so...

15

grosjean knows exactly how to sell himself to some f1 fans. good on him to come out with such a story preceded by two consecutive ontrack successes. most drivers have no stories apart from driving incidents.

16

You do know that this is not new news, only confirmation that it's still part of his preparation and conditioning? Grosjean has mentioned several times, going back to at least the 2012/2013 off-season, that he uses the services of a psychologist.

All power to him.

17

This takes him up some notches in my view. It takes maturity and dedication to proceed as RoGro has. He's used an available tool, it's helped him, when others might run from the stigma of psychology. Well done and good luck to him. Forza!

18

I find the entire aura and openness of RoGro and Haas F1 to be refreshing and enlightening beyond anything seen in many a decade.
sure, they are punching above their weight at the moment. sure, they will endure some self-inflicted heartache.
I will even go so far as to say once he gets some clean weekends, Esteban will show his relative worth and get involved with some chest-thumping too 🙂
this is a PR gold mine beyond anything Bernie/Todt are capable of realizing...
I for one am looking forward to their rollercoaster ride...

19

I admire his boldness in first accepting that he needs some correction to remove errors, then approaching a psychologist and finally letting the world know about it. Very few in the world would do that. I respect him a lot now and I hope he gets a better drive in a faster car soon.

On this matter, being a Kimi fan, I always felt he also needed one: somewhat contrary to Grosjean's problem, he seems too distant and disconnected in driving if the car is not competitive or to his liking unlike the other drivers. May be some others like Hamilton for his showiness and Alonso for being too consumed about himself are also potential candidates. Coming to think of it, I think only Vettel seems to be somewhat grounded I guess.

20

Nice lad, really glad for his Haas successful debut. Good example for those hammered by life or whatever, keep pushing your way out of troubles, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Now Romain, it is time to keep your fine balance walking the mined road to the top.

21

I'm so glad he's doing so well now. I always felt so bad for him in 2012 because I watched him race that Ford in 2010 and I always thought there was something a bit special about him. It's great that he's now in a space to show that

22

His early days in F1. He was lucky he didn't kill anyone. That incident in Spa was awful.
Well I'm glad he calmed down his over exuberance & now is a competent driver. So the psychologist did a great job.

23

Joe Saward said that his Q&A in Melbourne this year that Grosjean is one of the best humans you could meet. Was pretty refreshing to hear compared with tales you hear about other drivers.

24

Definitely a big improvement from Grosjean - Hope to see him and Haas keep up the good form 🙂

25

Well done to Grosjean for turning his career around for as the fans know it's not easy getting a second chance in the sport and likewise, it's not easy changing perceptions in the paddock once you become a bad boy.

However, somethings are better left to oneself such as crediting a psychologist for a change in performance.

I believe a gladiator man wouldn't admit to something personal like this till the day he meets saint Peter.

In my view, Grosjean had the mentality of an old school driver before Pirelli era when overtaking was only done in the pits so the best chance to make a huge leap in the race was on the first lap.

Regards Grosjean's move to Ferrari, it would make sense for the team to pick him up as Ferrari is famous for not having two roosters in the same hen house and yes, it isn't too early to think of Ferrari otherwise Grosjean wouldn't have signed a one year deal with Haas.

Overall, I have been impressed by Grosjean's driving and race craft so much so that I would reckon he is the best French driver since Alain Prost.

26

We use engineers to set-up the car and we use coaches to improve our physical performance. Why wouldn’t you use a psychologist to improve your brain and the way it works? That’s why I did it.

Indeed. And why not?

And yet the article claims Grosjean "admitted" that he consulted with a psychologist, as though he confessed a shameful act. Shameful, indeed. The author should rethink his shameful choice of words in future.

27

Consulting psychologist is no longer a sinful act to 'confess' it! Hope this is just a mistake of using the right word rather than being stuck in the past!

28

This shows genuine maturity & intelligence from Grosjean. Well done.

29

I wonder if all those who were on here in 2012 absolutely sure of themselves that Grosjean had problems with his peripheral vision would like to comment now??

30

“Some of the things we saw from [Grosjean] in testing,” says a senior Pirelli man who sees all the data from all the teams, “were just amazing. In the entry speeds and momentum through fast corners in particular, the loads he could generate and maintain, the level of instability he could live with to keep the momentum up beyond the level that looked feasible for the car, the inputs he’d make that kept the car on that edge, I’d say he’s the fastest guy out there. We’d see this consistently from him.” From http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/romain-grosjean-perception-vs-reality/

31

That sounds an awful lot like the skill set needed to control a Sprint car - something Mario Andretti would probably confirm. It would be interesting to see RoGro in a USAC car turning some hot laps at Eldora or Springfield. Won't happen, but fun to think about the similarity in technique across such different disciplines.

32

Great comment, thanks for that. I'd love to see more information like this regarding how drivers handle the cars.

33

Thanks for that link

34

I like this refreshed Grosjean, he has driven me nuts for the past few seasons. I've never understood how he was able to retain a seat in Formula one, but he demonstrated some really passionate driving in Bahrain. You could see him really pushing that car hard and it was very impressive. Good on him, I hope he continues in this direction.

35

Can't agree entirely here. Romain has always had material amounts of talent. One or two of the issues in 2012 were not entirely his fault either, some were, others weren't, but he has thoroughly deserved his place all the way. And now he's heading where he was destined to be.

36

I have often pondered the sense of starting a race with 20+ of the fastest cars in the world by funneling them into a narrow and tortuous corner and expecting them to all get through unscathed? somehow it doesn't make any sense as each and every driver is attempting to force their way through and gain position/s. with the performance of these cars today secs lost in that 'melee' can mean the difference between a podium and nothing. what grosjeans psychotherapist was able to do with grosjean is very interesting. obviously it has, to a degree, worked well and grosjean has blossomed. he is a very likeable chap and hopefully he goes on and becomes even more successful. i like drivers who maintain a pleasant demeanor despite enduring less than expected/ hoped for results.

37

All well and good, and hats off to him for making this known to the public.

However, I wish he hadn't said what he said about Jenson and the sport "needing new blood". An F1 World Champion deserves more respect from you Romain.

38

@mes...why shouldn't he be free to voice his opinion, just like you are here doing the same? this respect business is so faux. button was and still is good but like a lot of others he lucked into a fast car at the right time and he benefited from it.

39

Kenneth,

Your opinion is debatable. I still think JB is a very very good driver providing the car he has under him is to his liking. He's a superb overtaker although admittedly nothing like as good in defence. However, anyone who can give Lewis and Fernando a run for their money has to be right up there no? Plus I wouldn't call his team managing to make the best car "luck". But your general opinion of British drivers seems to be well documented on here...

As for Romain's opinion on him, it didn't come across well at all. If he had come on here and made a comment under a pseudonym (as I'm doing) then fair enough, it's just a shot in the dark. However, when one is speaking to the media for the whole world to see and attribute to him, then (in my opinion) he should be more respectful. It came over as jealousy to me.

Finally, I find your lack of respect for respect rather unfortunate. We need more respect in the world, not less I think.

40

Every opinion is debatable, yours as well. I also think that Jenson should go. He will not achieve more, same applies to Alonso. No way this guy gets another championship. Regarding Jenson, the guy just lucked into the WDC.

41

Simple fact Grosjean cost Alonso the 2012 title with that accident at Spa and almost killed him in the process, I think he's lucky to still be in F1.

42

Grosjean didnt cost Alonso the title, Alonso still had a 40+ point lead as at Monza!

43

The same could be said of Alonso, although of course we don't know yet what he really knew about the events in Singapore...

44
Fernando 150% Alonso

How come "The same could be said of Alonso"? He crashed in to Massa, ruined his race on the spot and almost killed him?

45

He may have been given more opportunity than most, but his wrecking of so many races by arrogantly believing himself capable of outbreaking the best in the business has cooked him a long supply of humble pie. Yes, he eats it well, but he has practice and plenty stored. I don't care if he is, or appears to be "nice" I only care how he drives F1 cars, it is all that matters.

46

As someone who's watched F1 most my life and having introduced it to my children, I do care about the personality of the driver, too. I admire the race craft of Hamilton, but I would hate my kids to take him as a role model. On another note can I assume you're not a huge fan of Massa! Lol

47

I liked Roman from when he first came into Formula 1 because he’s always got a big smile, even when he’s had a bad race. Same with Daniel Ricciardo. Isn’t it nice to see drivers who love racing and are genuinely and openly happy to be in Formula 1.

48

I'm a massive fan of Grosjean - in a sport where you're basically only as good as your last screw up, he's done such an incredible job of turning his driving (and in turn, people's perception of him) around - hardly anyone can manage that these days. He's worked on himself, done it properly and with care and consideration for what was going wrong, and absolutely come out the other side a better driver and, by the sounds of it from his point of view, a better human being,

It takes real guts to let people know about something as personal and stigmatised as this, even more so in a world as ruthless and alpha-male-dominated as F1 - he's showing that you can work on your personal issues and still be a force to be reckoned with, rather than have it make you weaker and more open to failure.

My favourite driver will probably leave the grid in a year or two and I've been struggling to find a reason to keep watching when he does because the way the sport is going at the moment leaves me cold. But Grosjean might just give me a reason to stick around 🙂

49

Bug in comments system: I am receiving a comment/reply in mail even before it appears in the webpage.

50

After reading this, I feel Grosjean will start the next race as he knows best. By crashing out.

Good luck Romain. He's a quick driver, certainly.
“Some of the things we saw from him in testing....I’d say he’s the fastest guy out there.”

51

this is what hamilton things of mind coaches and sports psychologists.

http://www.skysports.com/f1/live-blog/12433/10034948/f1-gossip-column

52

I agree with Pirelli's assessment. Being trackside sometimes gives you a better impression of speed and talent than a tv-screen (which is why commentators saying this or that driver is looking fast on a friday is often indicative of qualifying positions), and I remember watching Grosjean in Monaco on two separate corners, being in total awe of his driving. He crashed three times that weekend, but the speed he carried through the corners, the way he would not brake, steer, power out, but went through the corners in one aggressive yet fluid motion stood out from the other drivers. He may be the absolute fastest driver of them all. Let's hope the man is in a Ferrari next year.

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