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Thursday, October 11, 2012

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Under the Gun in Yeongam?

A couple of stupid and unwarranted stories about Romain Grosjean have come out this week and I thought I'd deal with them from my perspective.  Having read most of what's out there I would urge you to take a balanced view of what has been going on and for that you have to go to the Buxton Blog.  Will Buxton has written a persuasive article which serves to provide balance in an otherwise skewed media frenzy, but I do think that I've come up with a better post title.

Romain has to continue to push at the start of races and has to remain aggressive.  If he wants to continue at the sharp end of the grid his motto has to be "who dares wins".

The run down into the first corner must be the most dangerous time in a Formula 1 race; all the cars are jockeying for position, they bunch up, a number of cars are side-by-side on the track all having to squeeze through the first bend on different racing lines.  How many accidents take place here? Every Grand Prix we see cars running wide, touching, bits of carbon fibre flying, punctures, accidents and yet no-one is talking about how to resolve the first corner issue.

It is the competitive spirit of the racing driver that causes this problem, not the individual.  A rolling start behind the safety car is the only way that this can be resolved and while this has been mooted a number of times it has never been implemented except in bad weather conditions.

If Grosjean shows weakness at this stage of the race he becomes nothing less than a wounded animal surrounded by predators - easy meat.  Every driver behind him will focus on his piece of tarmac confident that Romain will back out of any potential contact: confident that they can gain a position at a crucial, early juncture of the race.

The fact is that this guy has a lot of guts.  When things didn't go his way in 2009 he went back to GP2 and made himself a better racer winning the inaugural Asia series in 2010 and winning the overall championship in 2011.  It was in July of that year that his return to F1 was flagged in this blog though to be fair my focus must have been drawn to him by BAM's GP2 reports at the time.

Having come back into the sport he's done alright. He keeps Kimi honest and, for what is in effect a second rookie year, he's in eighth place sitting above Sergio Perez, who is the focus of a lot of praise, Nico Hulkenburg whom the media seem to be pushing into the Sauber (or maybe even the Ferrari), and Pastor Maldonado, a quick but erratic driver who, since Chavez won the election, seems to be mouthing off about the big wodge of socialist cash he can give to teams up the grid.

Unfortunately for him I would feel that his crashability is more of a problem than his cashability.  Romain, on the other hand is capable of bringing home the points every time he goes out, if he can avoid trouble at the start.

The Will Buxton piece I linked to earlier assesses each of the 7 incidents referred to in all of the media stories and, as I said, makes a persuasive argument that of these only three can be laid directly at Grosjean's boots, Malaysia, Spa and Japan; the rest are either racing incidents or Grosjean is the victim.

He was certainly the victim of Jackie Stewart this week who has offered to "mentor" him in racecraft.  I think this is a load of £%*&.  I'm sorry Jackie but the fact is that he just needs a couple of straight getaways to ease his own mind.  He doesn't need you to tell him how to get past the first corner.

In the Press Conference this morning Roamin said:
Not having any contact on the first lap, that’s clearly one of the objectives. I’d say there’s work in progress and it takes a bit of time but yeah, it’s a cycle as well: things have been going bad, and the more it goes bad… I’m conscious of the risk at the start. The Spa accident was quite impressive and I was the first one to be happy that Fernando had nothing [injured], I’m conscious of the risk; I paid the price as well for my mistake. In the team we spoke quite a lot; they are not happy, I am not happy the way we have been going through the first laps. There is 550 people working at Enstone to give us the best car and if you ruin everything in the first 100m it’s not good. I’m conscious of all of that and will try to take as many precautions as possible to go through the first lap - and then normally in the race we are OK.
What he needs to do is take precautions but not forget to take opportunities. Better to be seen as a "nutcase" than "easy meat".