2017 F1 driver rankings #12: Grosjean

2017 F1 season review

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The running joke about Romain Grosjean used to be first-lap crashes. Now it’s angry radio messages.

While Grosjean has cleaned up his act on the track he does less well when it comes to disguising his frustration with a troublesome car. And he had plenty of that in 2017.

Romain Grosjean

Beat team mate in qualifying 12/19
Beat team mate in race 6/13
Races finished 17/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate 378/868
Qualifying margin -0.2
Points 28

So much so that in the United States Grand Prix, while attempting to nurse a set of tyres to the end of a very long stint, Grosjean’s repeated complaints about the state of his rubber grew too much for team principal Guenther Steiner, who ordered him to “shut up”.

It’s easy to exaggerate how serious these problems were for Grosjean. And as he rightly points out, we never know what messages from other drivers have not been broadcast by FOM. But you didn’t need to hear his radio messages to realise he found the VF-17 a frustratingly inconsistent car.

When the Haas ran well Grosjean usually made the most of it. He was regularly quicker than team mate Kevin Magnussen in qualifying and made more trips into the points.

The season started promisingly with sixth on the grid in Australia before he was sidelined with a water leak. He bounced back from an error in Q1 at Shanghai to finish just outside the points and bagged his first top ten finish of the year at the next round.

Azerbaijan and Austria typified the extremes of Grosjean’s second season. He complained bitterly about the car in Baku and seemed to spend most of the weekend reversing out of run-off areas. Then in Austria the car worked brilliantly and Grosjean delivered sixth in qualifying and the race. It was the only time all year Haas finished ‘best of the rest’.

The VF-17 largely favoured tracks with a bias towards quick corners. That made his eighth in Monaco, where he again struggled with brakes, a notably strong drive.

After taking points at Spa and Suzuka the final four races offered little for the team. But it was Magnussen, not Grosjean, who bagged a result in Mexico. Interlagos was a wasted opportunity as Grosjean spun into Ocon at the start.

He ended the year scrapping hard at Yas Marina, producing one of the race’s few notable passes by squeezing past Lance Stroll, though he couldn’t use that as a springboard for a points finish.

Having made it clear he was hoping for a future promotion to Ferrari, Grosjean was frustrated as the team continued to show faith in Kimi Raikkonen. Until he finds a way to raise his game on the days his car isn’t at its best, Grosjean may find he continues to attract attention for the wrong reasons.

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Over to you

On his day he can be very good, as shown in Australia and Austria, but most of the time he is struggling with his brakes, causing collisions and moaning about something. Steiner’s ‘shut up’ remark said it all – even his own team his fed up with him.

What’s your verdict on Romain Grosjean’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

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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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20 comments on “2017 F1 driver rankings #12: Grosjean”

  1. Our first real disagreement on the list; I simply can’t agree with Massa ranking lower than Grosjean this year. I rate Grosjean fairly highly, but he hasn’t convincingly outperformed Magnussen and goes missing far too often when the car isn’t working well.

    Far from being close to a Ferrari drive, I’d suggest he needs to watch his back for Giovinazzi taking his seat at Haas (especially if the Maserati sponsorship rumours have merit). I hope he has a more convincing 2018, but my hopes for Haas aren’t overly high.

    1. If Ferrari were McLaren, I’d say Giovinazzi had a chance of stealing Grosjean’s hypothetical place at Ferrari. But Ferrari isn’t known for hiring rookies.

      1. Indeed, not into their “A-team”, but the Alfa Romeo sponsorship of Sauber and placing Charles Leclerc there suggests that they’re moving towards Red Bull’s approach of trying out “rookies” at their “B-team”, before promoting them once talent becomes obvious and they have a little experience. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Giovinazzi appear at Haas or Sauber before the end of next year.

        1. I started to think that Grosjean would be a good option for Williams, if Claire manages to buy him from Haas. So then there’s a place on the b-team for Giovinazzi.

          1. @lubhz I don’t think there’s any prospect of Williams ‘buying’ anyone given their financial state.

  2. I didn’t think he was better than Massa this year. To be honest it was quite a poor season from Romain. I expected him to have more races like Australia, Austria and Monaco during the season, and not get beaten by Magnussen on a lot of Sundays.

  3. My rankings thus far are exactly the same as Keith’s, only Grosjean is three places too high. If I had to choose out of those four drivers to race in a team I were managing, based on last year’s performance, Romain would be at the bottom of that list. Mine are as follows:

    12. Massa
    13. Vandoorne
    14. Magnussen
    15. Grosjean

  4. I feel Grosjean didn’t show enough to warrant such a gap to teammate K-Mag on this list. I feel Massa and Vandoorne should be above him.
    Nor do I understand why Kimi hasn’t appeared yet. I think both Vettel and Alonso should be in the top 5, and I feel the difference between Vettel > Kimi has been similar as with Alonso > Vandoorne. With the latter being a rookie and Kimi a veteran driver, I can’t help but feel he should be below Vandoorne.

    I would rate them as follows:
    11. Massa
    12. Vandoorne
    13. Räikkönen
    14. Grosjean
    15. Magnussen

    On another personal note: the Haas pair are the two drivers I’d be least sorry to see leave the grid and make room for someone else to have a go.

    1. I completely disagree. I think the Haas was a handful of a car and the pair pushed it well. I believe both Haas driver to be podium worthy contenders in a sub par car.

      1. I disagree as well. Grosjean and Magnussen have taken a sub par car to points. In a Force India or a Williams, I expect both to be on the podium. Grosjean clearly has speed on his side. Magnussen is, in my opinion, slightly quicker and, if he was Verstappen, we would be 100% praising him for his race craft. His move on Massa springs to mind.

      2. @tango I think Haas actually has the weakest driver pairing of all teams. In his Lotus days, Grosjean was humiliated by Räikkönen, who is now humiliated by Vettel. Magnussen’s record is perhaps even weaker. He barely managed to outperform Palmer, who was absolutely no match for Hülkenberg. Hülkenberg and Pérez were quite evenly matched, so that implies that the Force India drivers are much stronger than Magnussen. And even they couldn’t score a podium this year.

        1. @f1infigures . All very true, but you could make the case that not anybody scores a podium in his first race, that magnussen beat vandoorne in junior formulae and often pushed JB in outright speed in his junior campaign when they were paired. Grosjean scored more than 10 podiums in three different years and though he was beaten by a still race winning raikonnen, he still ended the year as the better driver (you could argue Rai was a tad disenchanted with Renault by that point). Goes to show it’s hard to compare drivers, especially as they evolve in time and that performance is very car related (case in point : bot and ham in this year’s mercedes).

          1. @tango Thank you for your comment. Magnussen’s podium in his first race was highly impressive, but unfortunately for him the rest of his season was quite disappointing. Also, in 2016 he didn’t really impress against Palmer, who then was a rookie.
            Grosjean is really hard to rate. He can be incredibly fast and every year he scores some good points, but he also has a lot of very mediocre races. Even Gutiérrez finished ahead of him more often than not in 2016. In his Lotus years he showed flashes of potential, but still he was outperformed by Räikkönen in both 2012 and 2013 (when Räikkönen even skipped the final races). Possibly last season they were both performing better than ever, but based on earlier performances I don’t think they are top drivers.

  5. I disagree as well. Grosjean and Magnussen have taken a sub par car to points. In a Force India or a Williams, I expect both to be on the podium. Grosjean clearly has speed on his side. Magnussen is, in my opinion, slightly quicker and, if he was Verstappen, we would be 100% praising him for his race craft. His move on Massa springs to mind.

  6. An expected podium in a FI or Williams, really?

    Though I wasn’t necessarily pointing out their driving capabilities, but rather their (in my opinion) unpleasant/unremarkable personalities combined with (again subjectively) not bringing anything special to the table as drivers. I also feel we’ve already seen the best of what they can do, and it doesn’t excite me.
    Purely on their driving capabilities, I do think they deserve to be on the grid, however I think there are potentially better/more exciting drivers out there. I’d rather see someone like Giovinazzi get a chance or see what a still relatively young driver like Wehrlein or Kvyat can do in a different team. Or give Kubica a shot and see for ourselves if there’s still some magic left in him.

  7. Grojean isn’t outperforming a guy that didn’t outperformed Palmer. Do I need to say more? Everyone would know how average he is if you put him alongside other (good) midfield drivers like Hulk/Perez/Ocon/Sainz.

  8. F1fanatic always too lenient on Romain.

  9. Grosjean had a very rough start in F1 but he has consistently become stronger. If he can reign in his negative energy, he could go places. But Steiner says he’s given up on that idea, so I wonder about Grosjean’s future. Nobody wants to hire a pain in the butt; Look what happened to Wehrlein.

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