Romain Grosjean returned to single-seater racing last month for the first time since being dropped from F1 by Renault at the end of last year.
Having contested four races in the new Auto GP series he lies second in the championship, despite having missed the first four rounds of the year.
That alone is not strong enough grounds to say he shouldn’t have been dropped from F1. But comparing his performance last year to how well his successor Vitaly Petrov is doing, perhaps Grosjean was dropped too hastily.
It’s fair to say Romain Grosjean had an unusually tough introduction to F1. He was ushered in to Renault to replace Nelson Piquet Jnr, whose involvement in the Singapore race-fixing scandal had only just come to light.
Renault were publicly excoriated when the scandal emerged and team principal Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds were shown the door.
Amid the upheaval, Grosjean had to grapple with a wretched car and a double world champion team mate – and without the testing opportunities available to Petrov at the start of this year.
Despite that, Grosjean fared better on pace compared to Fernando Alonso than Petrov has compared to Robert Kubica.
Over his seven appearances Grosjean was, on average, 0.667% slower than Alonso on their fastest laps. In his ten appearances to date Petrov has been 1.013% slower than Kubica:
Perception matters a lot in Formula 1. Grosjean certainly gets less credit than he deserves for coping with the R29 and Petrov should be grateful he’s driving an R30 instead.
In leaving Grosjean on the sidelines this year F1 has passed judgement on him too quickly. His junior formulae credentials – with an F3 Euroseries championship (like Lewis Hamilton) and several GP2 wins – are strong.
Unfortunately it’s not clear where he might fit in were he to return in 2011. Several teams have already confirmed unchanged line-ups for next year and any places that do open up in established teams could well be taken by experienced drivers currently racing for new teams – such as Timo Glock.
Do you think Romain Grosjean deserves an F1 return? Have your say in the comments.
Read more: Romain Grosjean biography
Image (C) Renault/LAT