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F1 2016 Driver Review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas F1 Team
Car No.: 8
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 5th (Bahrain)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 29
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 13th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Romain Grosjean arguably took the boldest team switch of the 2015/2016 off-season when he opted to move to the new Haas operation, but it paid off almost immediately. P6 in Australia and P5 in Bahrain were remarkable results given the team’s infancy, down to a mix of bold strategy and masterful racing from Grosjean.

But they proved to be the high points of the Frenchman’s season. As the reality of life in Formula 1 hit the Haas team, Grosjean was only able to add a single point to his haul through the second half of the campaign. His ‘teenager raging on Xbox’ radio calls returned, similar to those heard amid his Lotus struggles, with a constant lack of feel with the car miring his campaign.

Nevertheless, Grosjean kept fighting the good fight. The Frenchman easily outclassed teammate Esteban Gutierrez, and will continue to lead Haas through 2017 when Kevin Magnussen arrives from Renault.

Much like Grosjean’s Lotus days, this was a year all about punching well above his weight and taking results he shouldn’t have. Old habits die hard.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

It speaks volumes of Grosjean’s maturation and development that the guy once branded a “first-lap nutcase” would become the targeted team leader to help spur a first-year team forward. Grosjean handled the task with aplomb and grace, and even despite the frustrations that inevitably occurred later in the year, was a worthy guiding light in the driver lineup at Haas F1 Team. 

The dream start was, admittedly, a false dawn for the rest of the year. With 22 points from three scores in the first four races, Haas exceeded expectations and almost created unrealistic ones for the rest of the year. Staff changes didn’t help matters either with Grosjean and Haas losing their strategic ace Ruth Buscombe to Sauber.

Because Grosjean’s career has been largely down to his fighting adversity, he was well positioned to handle the challenges that lay ahead. The braking issues were the most persistent, and pace fluctuated from week-to-week depending on the type of circuit. While the fifth and sixth place results were Grosjean’s best finishes, it was his single point at Austin and 11th places in Suzuka and Abu Dhabi where you felt Grosjean was properly outperforming the machinery at his disposal.

With focus shifted early to a 2017 car, what Grosjean and the team did this year will go down in history as an incredible run for a first-year program.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool