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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.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.