Romain Grosjean, Haas, Baku City Circuit, 2018

“Drive to Survive Episode 7: Keeping Your Head” reviewed

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Episode seven of Netflix’s new F1 series “Drive to Survive” is the shortest so far, at a brisk 26 minutes.

But if your name is Romain Grosjean, it will feel like five hours.

The first half of last season was Grosjean’s toughest time in the sport since his 2012 nadir, which led to him being banned for race after triggering a huge pile-up at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Haas driver tripped over his own feet too many times in the opening races of last season, and none of it is overlooked in this episode. His solo shunt behind the Safety Car in Azerbaijan. The huge crash at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix – already seen in episode two when it was accurately predicted by a rival team member.

Publicly, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner almost always gave Grosjean his backing last year. Only at Silverstone, where Grosjean tangled with his own team mate, then went out in a crash with Carlos Sainz Jnr, did Steiner admitted he was getting “frustrated” with his driver’s “unacceptable” mistakes.

But speaking candidly, with only the “Drive to Survive” team around to hear, Steiner was far more direct. (For more, hit the spoiler section below or dial up the episode on Netflix, where the series launched yesterday.)

In fairness, some of the incidents from the French Grand Prix could have used more context. This cuts both in his favour and against it. We hear Grosjean complaining about Leclerc’s driving, but we’re not told why Leclerc was not penalised. Similar, Grosjean is shown losing positions to Vettel and Bottas as if he ever stood a serious chance of keeping two vastly quicker cars behind.

While several of the Netflix episodes follow two stories at once, this deals pretty much exclusively with Grosjean. That plus its shorter running time makes it feel rather one-sided.

Perhaps room could have been found to throw light on his more successful races towards the end of the second half of the season, in Austria and Germany. As it is “Keeping Your Head” offers the most unflattering portrait of any driver featured in “Drive to Survive”.

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Drive to Survive Episode 7: Keeping Your Head – Spoilers

Debriefing his team after crashing during qualifying for the French Grand Prix, a dejected Grosjean tells them: “I don’t have any explanations for losing the rear that way.”

During the race, while Grosjean complains on the radio Leclerc is (legally) forcing him off the track, Steiner’s words probably reflect what many were thinking at the time: “Focus on driving, not fucking whingeing.”

Steiner’s growing exasperation is caught in another pit wall comment. “I don’t know how long I can have this,” he says. “At some stage I have to do something. I cannot just keep finding excuses for him.”

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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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15 comments on ““Drive to Survive Episode 7: Keeping Your Head” reviewed”

  1. This mentality of kicking someone who’s already down, I will never understand it, much less condone it. Pathetic, really.
    And they seemingly went out of their way to further humiliate the whipping boy, even though his season had an intriguing storyline that didn’t even need any editig:
    The embarrassment of Melbourne, after which we saw Grosjean sitting down with his mechanics and consoling them, the valley of tears he crossed with many small, and some big, mistakes. His redemption drives in Austria and Germany, interrupted by another rotten race in Silverstone. The fact that he bounced back became his team’s main points contributor after finally ending his point-less streak. The fact that he could’ve had even better results if not for a needless car-related disqualification in Monza, and a nigh-undrivable car with a steering defect in Suzuka.
    All this seems to be ignored to tell a story that can be summed up as “Lol, have you seen this iditot”?

    To me, this sounds much, much worse than tinkering with contract announcement dates to create artificial tension.

    1. *obligatory remark bemoaning the absence of an edit button*

      1. If they do not require user login for commenting, I imagine it would be hard to implement an edit system.

        Since you can’t ever confirm if the editor is the original commentor… (im totally just guessing…)

    2. Give G’s crashes including the comedy that was the Ericsson claim he’s not exactly going to get much sympathy.

      1. Croft, wasn’t there some question over whether it was actually Romain who said that, or his engineer who’d said that instead?

        1. It was his engineer.

          I have to say, I’m at a loss to understand how anyone could have mistaken it for Grosjean as the two sound completely different to each other, and the quote in question began with Grosjean asking what happened and his engineer mistakenly blaming Ericsson.

          1. @keithcollantine I think it started when someone saw “Grosjean” on the radio message caption screen and forgot there were likely to be at least two participants in the conversation…

    3. “The fact that he bounced back became his team’s main points contributor…”

      Not quite.

      Magnussen 56 points
      Grosjean 37 points

      Otherwise, I really think he should have been given credit for his strong come-back after the summer break.

      1. Think it meant to be main contributor at the later part of the season instead of as a whole.

        It is unfortunate that the two rarely score points at the same time.

        One sided the episode may be, but it shows how sh–ty it is to be under the spotlight, when life is going wrong, while your body and mind continues to contribute to the the madness.

      2. oled, as Hayden alludes to, whilst Magnussen scored more points overall, the majority of his points came in the first half of the season.

        If you take the British GP as being the approximate midway point of the season, Magnussen had scored 39 points by that race, and Grosjean had just 12 points: it therefore means that, over the latter half of the season, Grosjean scored an additional 25 points against 17 points for Magnussen.

        Grosjean’s total could have been even better without the disqualification on technical grounds in Monza, which cost him another 8 points – that would have lifted him to 33 points in the latter half of the season and an overall tally of 45 points. Now, you could also make the same argument for Magnussen, though the impact is smaller there – 2 points lost in the US – so Grosjean would still remain the higher scoring driver in the latter half of the season.

      3. As anon and Hayden said, I wasn’t implying that Grosjean outscored Magnussen in 2018 (if you ever see me getting such a basic fact wrong, please call an ambulance). My point is that Haas’ season had two phases:
        – The first phase, during which Magnussen collected a decent amount of points, but Grosjean failed to score any.
        – The second phase that started with Grosjean scoring his very first points of the season: From that moment onwards, it doesn’t matter how you segment the season, Grosjean was invariably the Haas driver who scored the most points for the rest of the season.

        And that’s basically the point: While Magnussen clearly did a better job in 2018, Grosjean’s post-June form gave Haas a reason to believe he’s the better driver – if he gets his act together.

  2. Just finished Episode 10 (and last episode of the series). Have to say it’s the best coverage/behind the scenes/interviews etc I’ve seen in a very long time.
    Maybe Netflix should do the actual race coverage too, and we can scrap Sky and their long in the tooth tired presenters ;-)

  3. Given what we were shown, it definitely makes one wonder why Grosjean has been kept around. Good luck to him this year! I’ll cheer for him having a solid incident free season. Easily the biggest underdog of all the underdogs.

    1. @skipgamer

      Given what we were shown

      That’s pretty much the point, innit? The directors of this episode chose to zoom in on everything that went badly, completely ignoring anything Grosjean did well.

  4. It’s actually pretty bad how Netflix tries to make Ocon look good and Perez the opposite. One of them saved the team from disappearing and again beat his overhyped teammate and another one just think it’s better than anyone and he comes from a “poor” family so he deserves everything…

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