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’.
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?
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.