2015 F1 driver rankings #7: Romain Grosjean

2015 F1 season review

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Romain Grosjean

Beat team mate in qualifying17/19
Beat team mate in race5/7
Races finished13/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate491/651
Romain Grosjean 2015 form guide

Romain Grosjean blew his team mate away and gave Lotus a richly-deserved podium finish. A few unnecessary mistakes were the only blot in a campaign which otherwise cemented his emergence as a team leader.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Grosjean’s season was that in spite of the fact he usually had to sacrificed one-and-a-half of the four hours of practice each weekend, he thrashed his team mate in qualifying by a greater margin than any other driver. Only twice was he outpaced by Pastor Maldonado in 19 races, and for all Maldonado’s faults lack of pace has seldom been one of them.

It took a while for Grosjean’s season to get going: the car broke in Australia (this soon became a familiar experience), then in Malaysia he was knocked into a spin by Sergio Perez having been third at one point. After that the points began to flow: seventh in China and Bahrain looked like the car’s limit at the time.

Canada was his biggest wasted opportunity of the year: from fifth on the grid he threw a result away by tangling with Will Stevens while lapping him. If this looked like a return to the wild Grosjean of 2012 there were few other indications that was the way things were heading, though he suffered a sizeable crash in Russia when he spun on the marbles.

Having persevered with a terrible car in 2014, Grosjean had the chance to remind the paddock what he was capable of in 2015. However Lotus’s financial situation in the second half of the year presented a new challenge.

Nonetheless Spa presented an opportunity which Grosjean seized magnificently. Having qualified fourth but been moved back to ninth by a gearbox change penalty, he worked his way forward in the race to retake his fourth position. Sebastian Vettel’s late drama handed him a fortunate – but nonetheless hugely deserved – podium finish.

Things never got that good again for the rest of the season, but a point had been proved.

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View race-by-race notes on Romain Grosjean

Australia – Was quick in the new Lotus when it ran, but lost most of the first practice session and retired at the end of lap one in the race with a power unit problem.

Malaysia – Q3 was the first time he’d driven the new Lotus in the rain which explains why the team chose to begin the session on full wet weather tyres. However they did not get their timings right and Grosjean missed out on setting a quick lap on intermediate tyres at the end. He was also penalised ten places by the stewards for skipping the pit exit queue in Q2. Another driver who didn’t pit during the Safety Car period, Grosjean climbed to third but was passed with ease by the Mercedes. He was later knocked into a spin by Perez which cost him the chance of a points finish.

China – Sat out first practice as Jolyon Palmer drove his car. Consistently in the top ten on the timing sheets all weekend and qualified a decent eighth. Kept his nose clean at the start and managed his tyres well throughout the race but could do nothing to help catch the Williams ahead. Crossed the line a solid seventh for his first points since Monaco last year.

Bahrain – Continued his record of getting the Lotus into Q3 at every race this year, but in the race his two-stop strategy appeared inferior to his team mate’s three-stopper – though Maldonado’s early exit from qualifying meant he had more fresh tyres. Nonetheless Grosjean repeated his China result of taking seventh place, still on the lead lap.

Spain – As usual it was Grosjean who sat out first practice while Jolyon Palmer drove the Lotus. Grosjean’s run in second practice was then disrupted by technical problems including a dramatic rear bodywork failure. Despite having reached Q3 in the first four races, after Friday he was pessimistic about their chances of getting beyond Q1. He made it, but couldn’t progress beyond Q2. Lost places early in the race after running wide at turn one, lost time when he overshot his marks at his second pit stop, and lost fourth gear as well, but took points for eighth.

Monaco – A five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change left him on the back foot, but he failed to out-qualifying Maldonado for the first time this year. Surprisingly his Lotus withstood the battering it took from Verstappen well enough for him to reach the chequered flag, but the time lost dropped him out of the points.

Canada – Lotus were quick from the word go in Canada and Grosjean could even afford to feel slightly disappointed with fifth on the grid. He said his out-lap preparation had been compromised after Lotus sent both cars out of the pits simultaneously for their final runs. He was on course to deliver fifth place in the race when he tripped over Stevens’ Manor while lapping his rival, picking up a puncture. That dropped him to tenth, which he held despite his five-second time penalty. To his credit, having blamed Stevens initially for the contact Grosjean later accepted responsibility.

Austria – Having enjoyed the luxury of getting to drive his car in first practice for a couple of races Grosjean was relegated to spectator status again this weekend and will continue to do so until Singapore while Lotus give more seat time to Jolyon Palmer. When he did get in the car he was hampered by reliability niggles, and having reached Q3 was unable to set a time. Got hung out wide by Sainz at turn three after the restart, which allowed Perez through, and shortly afterwards he ran wide at turn eight. A good points finish was still on, however, until his gearbox failed.

Britain – As usual he spent first practice watching Jolyon Palmer drive his car, but he lost more track time in the second session by spinning off at Luffield. Puzzled by his car’s balance in Q2, he registered his lowing qualifying position of the year. Pinned between Ricciardo and Maldonado at the start of the race, damage from the collision forced him out.

Hungary – Missing first practice was less of a disadvantage than usual compared to his team mate. Once again his was the only Lotus in Q3 and he also managed to save a set of soft tyres for the race. But he made a terrible start and finished the first lap in 16th, then collected a five-second penalty for an unsafe release from the pits. His race came alive after the Safety Car period, rising to sixth as those ahead hit trouble, before being demoted by Rosberg’s recovering Mercedes.

Belgium – His near-miss with Raikkonen in final practice compromised his flying lap, so his eventual speed in qualifying came as something of a surprise. Unfortunately for Grosjean a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change dropped him from the second row to ninth. He started well and came good in the middle stint, passing Ricciardo and Perez, which put him in contention for a podium place. He was gearing up to take a shot at Vettel in the final laps when the Ferrari driver’s tyre failed, handing him third.

Italy – Out-qualified Maldonado as usual but a first-corner tangle spelled an early end to his race.

Singapore – Reached Q3 for the tenth time this year which he admitted was “something of a surprise” on a track which didn’t flatter the car. He got away poorly at the start, not helped by Verstappen stalling in front of him, and ran into trouble while trying to stretch his tyres out at the end of the race. After dropping out of the points the team tactically retired his car to save its gearbox for Japan, amid doubts over how many spare parts they have.

Japan – Not for the first time this year Grosjean surprised himself by getting into Q3. His race was a straightforward affair to begin with, though he lost a place to Hulkenberg early on. But at the end he was having a hard time with his tyres. “It seems the new Pirelli limits hurt us more than our rivals,” he said.

Russia – As usual there was only one Lotus in Q3 and it was Grosjean’s. Race day turned sour quickly, however: he picked up front wing damage in the melee at turn two, then on lap 12 he got onto the marbles at turn three and crashed heavily into the barrier, fortunately without sustaining injury.

United States – Another frustrating weekend in which he chalked up yet another qualifying win against his team mate but his race was ruined by a rival on the first lap.

Mexico – Terse radio messages throughout practice and qualifying indicated Grosjean’s deepening dissatisfaction at Lotus. He was consistently strong through the first two sectors but in sector three only the Manors were slower than him in qualifying. Despite his downforce deficit, Grosjean brought the car home for a point.

Brazil – Understandably affected by the events of Friday in Paris, Grosjean nonetheless was Lotus’s highest qualifier as usual, though a spin prevented a better result in Q2. He got his head down during the race, passing his team mate and Verstappen en route to eighth.

Abu Dhabi – A gearbox problem in qualifying meant no Q3 appearance in his last race for Lotus – and a five-place penalty. He therefore ran the same strategy as Vettel, starting on softs and switching to super-softs at the end. He was able to re-pass Sainz and Kvyat but not Massa’s similarly-engined Williams.

Over to you

Did very well with the Lotus this year, and beat Maldonado soundly, included in qualifying.

What’s your verdict on Romain Grosjean’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #7: Romain Grosjean”

  1. I would actually think that Grosjean did a better job than both Perez and Rosberg this year. As keith mentioned, despite losing out on all that FP1 time, he completely outclassed Maldonado in every possible way. I actually thought this was his strongest season ever. He would be at #6 or #5 in my books.

  2. Yes, drives like Spa (and Canada until that strange mistake hitting Stevens) show he really is very good. Shame not all drivers can have cars that enable them to challenge for podiums and wins.

  3. I like the guy he’s become. More commitment, less errors, genuine pace. Let’s hope that Haas car won’t be a dog. Allez Romain!

  4. Hope he didn’t do an Alonso by moving to Haas, turned in to a likeably guy and deserves more credit for what he did this year.

    1. I’m hoping he doesn’t do a Timo Glock by joining Haas @rossotoro.

    2. I’m actually a bit optimistic by the Haas entry. On the surface, I get why folks are doubtful, but of the recent entries into F1 (including Honda’s poor effort on the engine front), Haas appears to be doing it right – they are well funded, have a racing pedigree, held off a year to really prepare, have a solid technical partnership with Ferrari, including a top flight engine (helped Sauber tremendously early in the season), spending hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel, and bringing on board a very good driver in Grojean (and GUT brings some solid experience to the table too).

      Of course the devil’s in the details, and getting all the pieces to work together well, but I’m starting from a position of giving them the benefit of the doubt based on their approach these past 2 years.

      1. Since HAAS is entrusting the chassis design to Dallara, I’ve got to believe the result is not going to be much better than the Hispania H110 at the start. Sure– Better funding, Ferrari powertrain, and mature aerodynamics will help, but I can’t help but feel they will be lucky to mix it up with Manor in the first year.

  5. thought grosjean should fifth seing as perez and rosbergs car are better

  6. …and for all Maldonado’s faults lack of pace has seldom been one of them.

    Hmmm, a little bit too generous for Maldonado there.

  7. While I agree with Grosjean’s ranking, I think too much importance is being given to missign the FP1s.

    As seen during the last third of the season where it was wet on Friday and dry after that; the teams barely got affected by lack of dry running. They were able to learn all they had to about the tyres in the 90 minute FP3 alone. And we had the predictable boring races, whether there was practice on Friday or not. Similarly, missing FP1 is not as big a penalty for the drivers too. They spend countless hours on a simulator and well prepared, FP1 or not.

    In fact, I will use the missing FP1s as an example to take forward a different cause – shortening of the F1 weekend format. It is clear that teams are not affected. A driver who misses FP1 is still doing very well in races all season. What further proof does one need that these Free Practice sessions of Froday mean close to nothing in today’s Formula 1

    1. Sumedh,

      Free practice 1 is not so much for the drivers on race day (FP2 serves that purpose), but it is for the teams to learn more about their cars, test new parts, confirm wind tunnel and computer simulations, and so on.

      This is incredibly important for the teams to improve throughout the year and from year-to-year. There’s already limited on track testing, and we should remember that these cars are all one of a kind, extremely high end/cutting edge prototypes. You can see this by how much running teams do, even though they are limited to only 4 engines per year

      1. Regarding this topic, I would like to see the old 00´s times when the backmarkers were allowed to run a third car in the first season, for rookies testing purposes

    2. In those instances, everyone lost running.

  8. His short F1 career have had a lot of up-and-down already. A debut to forget but bounced back beautifully to qualify third on his comeback in Melbourne and was always very fast and pretty relaxed. Then his stacks significantly dropped in the second half of 2012 starting with Spa crash and he started to make a mistake after a mistake. It was even worse in 2013 when he looked a completely lost man, cultimating in his nightmare Monaco weekend. However he managed to regroup again, upped his again and had an upper hand on his hightly-rated team-mate towards end of 2013. Since then, I believe he proved he is not a ‘Maldonado’ but a ‘Rosberg’.

    A pretty interesting story for a midfield guy.

  9. Grosjean is one of the best midfielders yes. Obviously he is aiming for a Ferrari or works Renault seat sometime in the future and he should.

    I can only praise him. #7 is for sure so low only because drivers above him enjoyed better car or displayed epic flair like Verstappen.

    All around adult racing driver. I would want him in my midfield team anyday if i had a budget to look at. I hope HAS F1 does brilliantly next year and he goes on to join Ferrari for 2017.

    Overall he got results, that team, that car this year shouldn’t have. With all the financial difficulties they pulled through and scored podium. Also destroyed teammate. Totally.

  10. Grosjean behind the likes of Perez and Rosberg? No way in hell. Even if you don’t share my point of view that he was the most impressive overall driver this year to put him behind Perez who was thrashed by his team-mate in every stat but the points table and Rosberg who was destroyed by his team-mate in every way is extremely harsh. Also Ricciardo had an uneven season and doesn’t deserve to be in front of Grosjean either. Neither does Verstappen, who in truth was barely better than Sainz if at all and Sainz is P12(too low but still). Yes he was extremely impressive given his lack of experience and I’m a fan, but was he, all things considered better than Grosjean? I don’t think so.
    I can completely understand those who put SV and LH in front of him, but again for me, and given the relative car performance, RG’s season was the most impressive

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