Grosjean on cusp of GP2 title – and F1 comeback?


Romain Grosjean, GP2, Nurburgring, 2011

Grosjean has won five times in GP2 this year

Romain Grosjean can claim the GP2 championship in next weekend’s two races supporting the Belgian Grand Prix.

Grosjean heads into the weekend knowing he only needs to maintain the gap over his pursuers to claim the title.

And it could pave the way to a return to F1 – in a more long-term capacity than his brief stint with Renault at the end of 2009.

Grosjean began the season with an emphatic win from pole position in Turkey. But it’s not been plain sailing for him since then.

He was stripped of fourth place in Spain after failing a ride height test, and battled from last on the grid to ninth in the sprint race.

After a chaotic qualifying session at Monaco he started last again, before impressively hauling his car from 26th to fourth via an inspired strategy.

He was back on the top step of the podium in Valencia but in the sprint race he collided with Sam Bird and Davide Valsecchi on the first lap and crashed out. But since that setback he’s finished every race in the top four.

Winning the championship would give him a strong claim to a place at F1 in 2012. Only once in the six-year history of GP2 has its champion failed to find a seat in F1 the next year.

Grosjean’s close ties with Renault team principal Eric Boullier could help him avoid the fate of Giorgio Pantano.

On paper both of the team’s seats for next year are occupied by Vitaly Petrov and the injured Robert Kubica.

But the situation regarding Kubica’s seat is far less clear. Doubts remain over when and if he will be able to return. He is due to undergo a further operation later this month, which may shed light on the situation.

Last month Boullier sang Grosjean’s praises, saying he “has the potential to be one of the big boys” and is “much more mature than two years ago” when he made his first seven starts in F1.

In Hungary, Renault gave Bruno Senna a run in the first practice session in place of Nick Heidfeld to assess his pace.

If they’re seriously considering Grosjean for a place in the team next year they may do the same for him after the GP2 season finishes at Monza – as happened with fellow Gravity Sports Management member Jerome d’Ambrosio at Virgin last year.

What about Bianchi?

Jules Bianchi, Christian Vietoris, GP2, Silverstone, 2011

Bianchi held Vietoris back in a gripping battle at Silverstone

The anticipated battle between Grosjean and Ferrari development driver Jules Bianchi has largely failed to materialise.

There were signs of it in Turkey where the pair clashed on-track. At the Nurburgring Grosjean pressured Bianchi into a crucial mistake on the penultimate lap and stole victory off him.

But other than that Bianchi has often failed to figure in the battle at the front, and usually through his own doing.

He lost his pole position in Spain after being found to have ignored yellow flags during his lap. He collided with Giedo van der Garde on the run to turn one in the sprint race, putting him out.

Astonishingly he hit the same driver again in the next race at Monaco, though Bianchi’s defence his car had developed an hydraulic problem at the time.

Another first-corner crash, this time with Marcus Ericsson, ruined his weekend in Valencia, though he recovered from 24th to seventh in the sprint race.

At Silverstone we finally saw a race and result worthy of his obvious talent. Bianchi took victory after a thrilling scrap with Christian Vietoris which ranks as one of the most exciting races I’ve seen all year.

But it didn’t proved the turning point in his season it should have. After a lacklustre weekend in Hungary Bianchi lies fourth in the drivers’ standings with less than half Grosjean’s points tally.

He retains a mathematical, though wholly unrealistic, chance of winning the championship.

Second place is conceivably within his reach and it’s worth bearing in mind that every GP2 runner-up has gone on to compete in Formula 1. But it’s not the performance or result that was expected from him at the start of the season.

Do you think Grosjean or Bianchi deserve a place in F1 next year? What about the likes of Giedo van der Gade, Sam Bird or Davide Valsecchi? Have your say in the comments.

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65 comments on Grosjean on cusp of GP2 title – and F1 comeback?

  1. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 19th August 2011, 23:00

    Even though I have not seen Grosjean race in GP2, I do feel that he was given a raw deal in 2009. The Renault car was not that great either which was the same case with the Ferrari that year (both Luca and Fisi struggled). I believe he should be given another chance possibly with Renault again rather than HRT or Virgin.

  2. For rookies or young drivers, a challenging well established teammate can dim their talent. Grosjean was Alonso’s teammate and that was quite hard… Heikki had a similar situation, when being Lewis teammate made him look so terrible (and his only victory didn’t help so much). I think that’s why rookies can adapt better in a small team, with an average teammate (we can see how impressive Paul DiResta is this season, against Sutil). Lewis made it all the contrary, making pace with Alonso till the end of his debut season (and finishing EVEN in points). People against Vettel, for example, claim that his not having defeated a really explosive talent (let’s accept Webber is gradually going out of F1) makes his career not really impressive. Well, Toro Rosso wasn’t (and is not even now) a top team when he won his first race… Kubica is another great talent we hope to see fully recovered to make great battles against the champions. Grosjean deserves a second, fresher air.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 20th August 2011, 0:37

    But the situation regarding Kubica’s seat is far less clear. Doubts remain over when and if he will be able to return. He is due to undergo a further operation later this month, which may shed light on the situation.

    If Kubica can return this year, then I would certainly expect Grosjean to replace Heidfeld until Kubica is ready to come back. Nick Heidfeld just isn’t worth it any more. The sceptic in me wonders whether Renault hasn’t ended development of the R31 early because they’ve been a man down.

  4. BROOKSY007 (@brooksy007) said on 20th August 2011, 1:00

    I think he deserves another shot, but I’d prefer SENNA to get a decent go first! The name alone demands respect and we haven’t had the chance to see how good he is yet either.

    I was very disappointed when heidfeld took what I considered to be senna’s seat after kubica’s terrible accident.

    All teams need a third car just so we can all enjoy the specticle of the what if’s!! The truth of the matter is there are just not enough seats in F1!!

  5. SoLiDG said on 20th August 2011, 1:01

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he replaces Heidfeld before the end of the season!

  6. andrewf1 said on 20th August 2011, 1:04

    having watched this video, i think he deserves another chance in F1. the commentary is also quite funny :)

  7. Jean-Eric Vergne is far more impressive, especially when one considers that the Formula Renault 3.5 field is much more competitive this year compared to GP2.

    It’s Grojean’s fourth year in GP2! If he wasn’t winning, it would be absurd.

  8. Err Gusto said on 20th August 2011, 10:06

    Me thinks that F1 will be just as obscure to the general public as GP2 when it goes to pay TV.

  9. Lucas Alexander Munro - Mr. Veloce of Britalia - Yours With Wings said on 20th August 2011, 12:07

    Current GP2 drivers who deserve to be in F1 in 2012:
    Grosjean, Bianchi, Bird, Van Der Garde, Pic, Valsecchi

  10. Rob Wilson said on 20th August 2011, 14:04

    Surely Barrichello is thinking about retirement by now? Having said that – Maldonado & Grosjean doesn’t seem like the strongest line up in the world..But come on Rubens, you’ve had you’re time.

  11. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 20th August 2011, 23:53

    I’ve enjoyed watching the last two GP2 champions in F1, so I fully support this guy entering the sport in the near future. Even if he doesn’t find a drive this year, there’s a likely chance he’ll win the same championship again next year, and, provided he’s got money behind him, it’ll be hard for teams wanting new blood to turn this guy down.

  12. Kisii said on 21st August 2011, 6:47

    Does it mean that he will quit his day job at the bank?

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st August 2011, 11:03

    It’s been difficult for me to keep up with GP2, mainly down to Eurosport’s dreadful lack of consistency with their broadcasting.

    Bianchi has looked a little shaky at times. I think he would benefit from another season in GP2. I do hope Romain gets another stab at F1, he deserves it, he’s been pretty dominant throughout the season.

    I’m hoping he holds back until Monza though, last race of the season would be brilliant (and i’ll be there).

  14. Khizer Ahmaed said on 21st August 2011, 12:56

    1. Robert Kubica / Vitaly Petrov
    2. Romian Grosjean

    1. Sergio Perez
    2. Jules Bianchi

    Toro Rosso
    1. Jamie Alguesuari
    2. Daniel Ricciardo

  15. Khizer Ahmaed said on 21st August 2011, 12:59

    Fire Kubica and Take Grosjean Because He Is Way Better Than Robert Kubica

    • David A said on 22nd August 2011, 4:19

      Using capitals on every word is slightly less ridiculous than telling Lotus Renault to fire Robert for Romain, regardless of how Kubica will be compared to 2010.

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