As theories concerning possible future team mates swirl and drivers are constantly calling out the team in order to, one presumes, motivate them to squeeze ever drop of performance out of the cars, there is at least one Formula 1 driver who believes in what his team is doing: Romain Grosjean.
The Lotus F1 Team wheel man is supporting the strategy his team used at the German Grand Prix even though it called for him to surrender P2 to his team mate Kimi Raikkonen. Grosjean had challenged race leader Seastian Vettel earlier in the race, but as the number of laps remaining dwindled his team asked him to scoot aside and let Raikkonen take a shot at Vettel. Grosjean did, but the call came with only six laps remaining and despite being consistently quicker than Seb, Kimi was only able to get the gap down to 1.0s by the time the cars crossed the finish line to end the race.
Raikkonen has been critical of Lotus’ race strategy at times during the season, most recently following the British Grand Prix when the team opted to not pit Kimi late when the other leaders came in to get fresh tires. That call caused the Iceman to have to try and maintain pace on old rubber, which in turn allowed multiple cars to rocket past him as he slid from P2 to P5. The team’s strategy played into Raikkonen’s favor in Germany so perhaps that is why he has remained silent on that. Kimi chose a different form of criticism, and placed credit for Lotus’ improved speed on track conditions and not car improvement, saying they still had work to do.
Grosjean somewhat echoed Kimi’s sentiments saying “It was fantastic to lead the race in the first stint and the summer and the heat clearly helps our car.” Grosjean also said that he had no hard feelings over letting Raikkonen by as he had his chance at challenging Vettel earlier on in the race. The Frenchman is truly a team player in a sport that seems to be lacking them as of late.
Lotus was looking for big improvements out of Grosjean this season, but he hasn’t really lived up to expectations. At this point last year Grosjean had racked up four DNFs, but in the races he completed he had finished P6 or better and landed on the podium once with a P2. This season he has finished more races, with only two DNFs, but has only been in the top six three times and hasn’t finished better than P3, though he has done that twice. Outside of those three finishes Grosjean has race results of P9, P10, P13, and P19. It should also be considered an improvement that he has not been banned from a race in 2013 where in 2012 he was forced to sit out at Monte Carlo.
Overall Romain’s style has not changed: when he is on his game he kills it, but when he is off he is either in the wall or the back of another driver’s car. Despite being told by Team Principal Eric Boullier prior to the beginning of the season that he had a long term future with Lotus, one has to think that if Grosjean doesn’t show more consistency he may still end up out of a seat come 2014. However, if Kimi chooses to depart Lotus for Red Bull Racing at the end of the year methinks Grosjeans chances of keeping his black and gold race seat will greatly increase.