Grosjean coy on future, says Alonso is key to F1 driver market

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Romain Grosjean remained coy when asked today about where his future in Formula 1 lies, with the Frenchman believing that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso holds the key to the driver market for the 2015 season.

Despite stating in an interview this week that he is not actively looking to leave Ferrari, Alonso is known to be a target for McLaren ahead of its new partnership with Honda in 2015.

For Grosjean, a move away from Lotus may be possible given that he is without a firm contract for next season, but he said that there has not been much discussion up to now.

“It’s been quite quiet. So far, nothing crazy,” he said when asked about any movement on his future.

“I think you have to wait for Ferrari and probably Alonso. From them, the market will move.

“I’m sure you’re aware as much as I am, if not more, and so far nothing has moved much. You can always speculate. From what I know, everyone has a contract in the other big teams. Alonso is the key of the market.”

Grosjean confirmed that his management has been in preliminary talks with other teams, but nothing surefire had been decided.

“There are always talks and that’s for the managers,” he said. “Yes, there have been a few talks, but so far you just have to wait.”

As for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix? Grosjean does not think that Lotus can expect to be fighting too far forward at Monza, given that the high-speed nature of the circuit will exploit the major weaknesses of the E22 car.

“I don’t think there’s much we can do,” he said. “We have special wings for here, we have new updates from the power unit side, so we’re gonna do our best.

“Top speed hasn’t been a strength for the E22, and low speed corners neither, so this is the worst of both worlds. On paper, it’s not going to be an easy one, but it’s always our job to try and get the best and see what it brings.”

Grosjean’s career has turned around 180º over the past eighteen months. At Silverstone last year, Mark Webber coined the verb “Grosjeaned”, meaning to crash into after an incident at the first corner. However, he has since flourished, scoring five podium finishes in the second half of last season.

In 2014, he has clearly struggled with the troublesome E22 car, but has been Lotus’ team leader. If Ferrari does indeed part company with Alonso, Grosjean is a serious option for the Italian marque to consider.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.