In the tenth episode of Formula 1’s ‘Beyond The Grid’ podcast, Romain Grosjean opens up on his F1 debut, his return after success in GP2, first lap incidents, family life and more.
The Frenchman starts the podcast talking about his Swiss and French heritage where his mother is Swiss and father a French citizen. Grosjean reveals he started fully using the French license when he joined the Renault academy.
His journey into racing also happened through skiing like Jacques Villeneuve. He then visited a handful of rally races and gradually took racing which his father allowed but alongside his education. He always wanted to be around cars.
The 32-year-old was into aerodynamics engineering and so he would have had a career in aerodynamics if not a race car driver. However, for his future after he leaves F1, he wants to remain involved with motorsport through marketing and sponsorship.
But he is not in a hurry to leave F1 though as he reckons he can race until 40-years like Kimi Raikkonen. Talking about his F1 journey, he recalled the 2009 season where he had a surprise debut replacing Nelson Piquet Jr amid the ‘crashgate’ controversy.
The Frenchman was drafted into the team alongside Fernando Alonso which was hard for Grosjean. He was initially discussed to race in Hungary but was pushed to Valencia. After just the seven races, he was dropped for 2010 with Vitaly Petrov taking his seat.
The Frenchman admitted that he was nowhere at that time as he knew little what was to be done as a F1 racer. In fact, his shy nature was taken as arrogance. He revealed that he gave up on racing and started taking cooking classes in that period.
In time though, he then started getting calls from the GT and Endurance world when he had a big breakthrough for a return in GP2 Series with DAMS as its boss Jean-Paul Driot gave him a fully paid drive to help the team get back on top.
He eventually took the title in 2011 and returned to F1 with Lotus – the same Enstone outfit from where he was fired. He admitted it to be a little awkward but was happy to get back into F1 and straightaway score podiums in his returning 2012 season.
However, his return was marred with controversy as he was handed the tag of a ‘first-lap nutcase’ by Mark Webber. He had multiple crashes on Lap 1 which he put it down to trying too hard on the opening lap to gain places.
While he agreed the crash with Webber in the 2012 Japanese GP was 100 percent his fault, he felt the Belgian GP incident was simply a chain reaction due to him hitting Lewis Hamilton. In other cases, he felt it was just an unfortunate situation.
He also revealed what Webber said to him after the incident while adding that he started seeing sports psychologist from then on with whom he is still in touch with – who also helped him to recover from a slow 2018 start.
For the current season, he talked about phoning her after the Silverstone crash with Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen. On his F1 drive, Grosjean hopes he can stay on with Haas and dreams of scoring the team’s first podium.
His idea of joining Haas was to be part of the team’s history to be the first driver to score points and have records in his name as ‘first driver to do so’. He said he is using his experience from Alonso and Raikkonen to build for a Sunday race than qualifying.
On his family life, he reveals how he met his wife who is a TV anchor and talks how he is a changed person after having kids. He also talks about a funny incident with his kid who phoned him after the Barcelona crash earlier this year to blast on him.
An excerpt from the podcast:
“When you are in that spot, when all the spotlight is on you and you know you can’t make any move without risking a penalty, then of course [your fellow drivers] take advantage, which is normal – you would always do that,” said Grosjean.
“If you are playing tennis and your opponent is struggling from the heat or has lost his backhand, you’re going to hammer it. If you’re cycling up a hill and you see the other guy struggling you go for it. We’re competitors – we want to win.
“Dealing with media criticism, fan criticism, happens all the time, especially with Twitter and so on and the amount of abuse you get. Then when you meet people they never say anything, they are always nice to you.
“But having the drivers [criticise] – and Mark [Webber] calling me the first-lap nutcase –when you’re doing the same job, that was painful.”
[Listen: Eddie Jordan]
[Listen: Bernie Ecclestone]