Romain Grosjean, Haas, Interlagos, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #17: Grosjean

2018 F1 season review

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Having been last in the RaceFans F1 driver rankings at mid-season, Romain Grosjean’s improved form in the second half of the year merits a slight rise. But it’s clear he and his car were capable of much more this year.

His litany of errors before the summer break included a crash behind the Safety Car in Azerbaijan, spinning into the pack in Spain, collisions in qualifying and the race at his home round, and further prangs with his team mate and Carlos Sainz Jnr at Silverstone.

No shortage of ammunition for Grosjean’s critics, then. But he was equally capable of wringing the best from the Haas VF-18 and taking it places Kevin Magnussen couldn’t.

He scored the team’s best result of the year in Austria with fourth place having out-qualified Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. At Hockenheim – which he called the turning point in his season – Grosjean picked up five place on a damp track at the end of the race to finish sixth.

Romain Grosjean

Beat team mate in qualifying 11/19
Beat team mate in race 7/14
Races finished 15/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate 415/1025
Qualifying margin -0.12s (adjusted)
Points 37

Suzuka was a great and widely under-appreciated performance. A fire at the back of his car early in the race left him with badly-damaged suspension and a loss of tyre sensor information. Yet he wrestled the car to eighth place, losing only one position to Sergio Perez.

But Grosjean frustrated much more often than he impressed in 2018. He was given a swingeing penalty for repeatedly ignoring blue flags in Singapore and another collision with Leclerc in Austin left him perilously close to a race ban. At times – such during as his furious complaints about Leclerc’s entirely legal driving at Paul Ricard – you had to wonder if some of his problems are caused by him not knowing the rule book as well as he should.

Haas kept their faith in Grosjean but you only have to look at his points score compared to Magnussen to understand why the fourth-quickest car of 2018 ended the year fifth in the points. Grosjean’s three best results – a fourth, a sixth and a seventh – were exactly the same as Pierre Gasly managed in a much less competitive Toro Rosso.

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Over to you

After an excellent couple of years, has slid back into “first-lap nutcase” territory again recently. Far too many silly accidents show why he has never earned a top drive. Spain was a particular low point.

What’s your verdict on Romain Grosjean’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? 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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39 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #17: Grosjean”

  1. With every new name I’m surprised it’s not Vandoorne.
    Especially that when I see Grossjean, then Magnussen doesn’t deserve to be far away. Both had very topsy-turvy seasons.

    1. Its just wrong. All of these sucked, but vandoorne had the worst season since Yuji Ide.

      1. Don’t be ridiculous.

        1. it is a bit off, it was the worst season since Piquet Jr. At least that one managed to gift a win to his team

    2. It’s ridiculous Vandoorne is not last but it probably fits with where Alonso will end, ridiculously high aswell.

      1. I don’t see how anyone but alonso can deserve 2nd place in a fair ranking, not one who gives a bonus to the car!

        Vandoorne this far up says a lot about how many people got outqualified this badly by alonso in the same car, including names like massa and raikkonen!

  2. Very, very harsh. Grosjean destroyed Magnussen for two/thirds of the season. Don’t care how bad the first third was, he deserves to be higher up.

    1. I think I’d have to agree here @hahostolze, even though I find myself agreeing with much of the text in the article, I can’t help but think it hard to put him so far back. Mention of Gasly makes me wonder about where he’ll be too though.

      1. @bosyber – yeah, count me alongside you – I feel the rating is harsh, but at the same time end up agreeing with the various errors listed. Maybe it we look at it as a rating of a driver’s demonstrated/proven ability vs. what he actually put out, it makes it a bit more understandable.

        And similar to what @coldfly said, while I was slightly surprised at Vandoorne’s absence yesterday, his absence at even this spot is even more surprising.

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      11th December 2018, 10:46

      Not in the least bit harsh. Doing a half doughnut into the oncoming pack was inexcusable and deserved a race ban there and then.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    11th December 2018, 8:56

    I too think this is really harsh on Grosjean. Hass didn’t look as strong the 2nd half f the season. Yes other than Australia, he didn’t perform that well at the start of the season when he had a good chance for points, but he was better than Magnussen by a bigger margin than when it was the other way round. And it was at least half the season he looked better. His start of the season wasn’t exactly worse than Verstappen. I know Verstappen has been great since, but given how Grosjean is rated, it would seem a bit silly if Verstappen’s start doesn’t heavily impact his end of season score.

    1. I agree, Grosjean came good when the car slid back in terms of competitivness. I would sign Grosjean over Vandoorne, Ericsson even Magnussen in a heartbeat if given the choice (and all three are in front in htis ranking, which for the two first mentionned, is weird). I would not put him top 10, he had a dreadful start to the season, but he came good and managed a run of great quali sessions during the end of the season while MAG was nowhere to be seen. I also believe the pair “Grosjean / Magnussen” has lots of speed in them and might have flattered the Haas. The fact that both have been pretty uneven this year might also be partly explainable by the car.

      1. I also believe the pair “Grosjean / Magnussen” has lots of speed in them and might have flattered the Haas.

        @tango – I’d only partly agree to this nice point. I think Grosjean did a good job when he held it together, but KMag was more of a consistent points bringer (relative to Grosjean, a low bar, I must admit) than someone who could bring the best performance out of the car.

    2. Completely agree. Verstappen’s start to the season was just as bad as Grosjean’s. Whilst Verstappen’s highs since then were obviously better than Grosjean’s (because of his talent and also because of the car), his lows were just as bad as Grosjean despite scoring the odd podium. Grosjean may have failed to score points in the 4th/5th best car but Verstappen lost 2 certain wins in China and Monaco.

      Even more bizarre is how Vandoorne made the top 15. He was easily one of the worst drivers this year, if not the worst. I feel like his prior credentials are boosting him in the list rather than his 2018 performance.

      1. Comparing the few mistakes VER made in the first 6 races with the structural mistakes and bad decisions Gros showed is a strange thing.
        I know every mistake by VER is put in the fishbowl but crashing during free practice is not the same as doing donuts in the first turns. and really…

        despite scoring the odd podium

        you did viewed the same season the rest of the F1 fans did?

      2. @stormbreak

        Yeah, I’m fine with this logic as long as Alonso, and maybe one or two others are ahead of Verstappen and Vettel.

        But there is a wrinkle. The points are weighted toward the winners. It might be that driving a Red Bull all or nothing is the right thing to do, because it can occasionally get big points (but not the championship). But the Haas can’t occasionally grab a win, so they needed lots of 1, 2, 3 point weekends.

  4. You can argue it either way with the Haas drivers… if I were a team principal and had the choice between Grosjean or Magnussen; I’d choose Magnussen every time. I think Grosjean is probably faster, but is too much of a liability. Magnussen is fierce and gets tangled up, but rarely makes the careless errors that Grosjean does.

    On their best days, Grosjean would beat Magnussen, but Magnussen’s average is superior.

    1. @ben-n – Good comment. I suppose that might have been a factor in the Haas driver line-up for 2019 – keep KMag for his (relative) consistency, and Grosjean for those periodic good performances.

    2. KMag and Grosjean might be one of the best midfield pairings since the Perez-Hulk combo that Force India so efficiently wielded for some years.

  5. Ambrogio Isgro
    11th December 2018, 9:20

    So Vandoorne had a better season than Grosjean or Ericsson? What a joke… Clearly Alonso will go in the top 5, but how this make Vandoorne season up to the 15th place at least is a mystery

    1. It’s an interesting one and entirely subjective. Was Alonso the McLaren’s base line and Vandoorne was appalling? Or was Vandoorne the McLaren’s base line and Alonso was outstanding? Or was it somewhere in between?

      Vandoorne hasn’t forgotten how to drive overnight and so I’d suspect it’s somewhere in between. He clearly didn’t get on with the car, but I’d still rate him higher than probably both the Williams drivers and Hartley. I’d struggle to argue a case for him above Grosjean and Ericsson thought.

      1. Not overnight, he drove a bit last season, but completely forgot how to thus year

  6. I think Grosjean was very good in Brazil as well, taking damage on the first lap but keeping Leclerc in sight throughout the race. His engineer was very impressed by him in the cooldown lap radio chat.

    Romain had a good second half and was consistently fast, at least. You can say that he made ‘only’ two errors i.e. Singapore and USA (still shouldn’t have made them). Also, being stripped of 6th place in Monza certainly didn’t help…he was absolutely flawless all weekend. Not to mention, he completely destroyed his teammate in qualifying.

  7. Re the Alonso and Verstappen comments above, please remember these guys will be ranked on popularity as much as performance.

    As for Grosjean, being ranked below Vandorne and Ericsson is inexplicable to my mind, but hey I appreciate that Keith is willing to put these lists together for us to disagree with.

  8. He indeed slid back not entirely but a bit more towards the ‘first-lap nutcase’ territory, and also made some other unforced errors albeit smaller ones like in Singapore with the blue flags, but still. He was lucky that he got retained for another season. Had it not been for the good results midway through the season at Red Bull Ring and Hockenheimring then it perhaps would’ve been challenging to get another shot at Haas.

  9. Harsh but to be honest crashing by himself in Baku was the highlight of his year, so kinda justified in a way. The fact Haas isn’t higher up the points is more on his shoulders than Magnussen’s, even if Magnussen had a wobble towards the end of the year too. Still think he’s a decent driver – the Haas pair are a good pair, just both lack consistency sometimes.

  10. Harsh.
    I believe Grosjean did as good season as Magnussen – it balanced out itself having in mind that he was much better than Magnussen in the second part of the season.
    Also – on pure speed I count this guy as one of the fastest on the grid. His problem is that he is too sensitive in respect to the balance of the car – a bit like Raikkonen or Button.

  11. More than he deserves.

    – Decided to do a spin directly into the oncoming pack. After self appointing himself GPDA snitch for safety (the whole loosening belts thing? really?)

    – Crashed all by himself behind a safety car in Baku then cried about it like a little…

    Hate this guy.

  12. For many of the reasons stated above I think this is very, very harsh bordering on the ridiculous.

    Yes Grosjean made a bad start but the stats above don’t lie. He beat Mag in qualifying 11 out of 19 times and he finished ahead of him 7 out of 14 times.

    Roman should definitely be above Ericsson and Vandoorne and probably a few others. Be interesting to see where Mag appears.

  13. And his fourth place in Austria wasn’t enough, the constant crashing still continued…

  14. If haas are going to achieve success in f1, they need to sign a top 5 driver, not these top 15 sorts.

  15. For that he didn’t get a bad this season is a disgrace
    He is clearly numer 20 this season
    Another season like that and he is out of F1 !

    1. get a ban

  16. Think 17th is harsh on grosjean, but don’t know who they realistically could’ve put behind him, maybe vandoorne, but apart from that, drivers just have a high quality level nowadays.

    1. Both Haas drivers are low quality midfielders

  17. First half of the season the Haas car was understeering (magnussens favorite) and second half the car was snappy oversteering(Grosjeans favorite).
    This fact is acknowledged by the team.
    The last 2 races Magnussen catched up on Grosjean to a dif of about 0.5 sec but was told by teamorder to back off.
    Because everybody inside and outside the team know that Grosjean would have crashed them both out if Magnussen was allowed to overtake.

  18. Romain Grosjean: Flop Of The Year 2018. That’s it.

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