What will 2015 hold for Romain Grosjean in F1?

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The 2015 Formula 1 driver market is set to be subject to one of the most biggest shake-ups in years. Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull, and Jenson Button may be leaving F1 altogether. Three of the five champions on the grid look set to move for next season.

However, the domino effect means that their decision have wide-reaching impacts on those further down the field. Daniil Kvyat has been given the chance of a lifetime for 2015, joining Red Bull for his sophomore year in F1, whilst a number of other drivers are jostling for position, be it with their existing teams or elsewhere.

One such driver is Romain Grosjean, whose situation is a little more complex than the others. In essence, he should be fighting further up the grid than he is with Lotus, yet he may not even have a place with his current team for 2015.

Grosjean’s F1 career has been a funny one. After stepping in at Renault as a replacement for the sacked Nelson Piquet Jr. at the end of 2009, he was not retained beyond the end of the year, and bravely elected to take a step back down the ladder.

After winning GP2 in 2011, he returned to F1 in 2012 with Lotus for a season that saw him make the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. A one-race ban for causing a dangerous collision in Belgium was the lowlight of a difficult first full season in F1, but he was able to atone for these mistakes in 2013 with a fine second half of the season that yielded five podium finishes. He had gone from crash kid to shining star.

And so for 2014, great things were expected of the Frenchman and Lotus. However, financial difficulties blighted much of the team’s preparations, and the results have been clear: sixteen races, eight points, all courtesy of Romain Grosjean. He has put teammate Pastor Maldonado firmly in the shade?

So why is Maldonado the man with a firm deal for next season? Quite simply, money. The Venezuelan has financial backing that is the envy of the motorsport world, meaning he can ease into a seat at Lotus for next year. His presence is crucial to the future of the team.

It will also have played a role in securing the new engine deal with Mercedes for 2015. After a long-standing partnership between Enstone and Renault, the switch to Silver Arrow power was finally announced in Russia last weekend. Given that Mercedes has produced the best power units on the grid in 2014, it appears to be a great deal for all involved.

Except Grosjean, that is. As part of the deal, Lotus confirmed that it would be switching to Petronas oil for next season. Petronas has been a long-running partner of Mercedes, and is an integral part of its success. McLaren’s insistence on using Mobil 1 is widely believed to be at the root of many of its problems in 2014 – the engines are made for Petronas.

Currently, Lotus works in tandem with Total, who also happens to be Grosjean’s main partner. So unless Lotus decide they can live without this backing, it appears that Grosjean’s future is far from certain at Enstone.

It may seem quite cynical to suggest that Romain could be forced out of the team, but it could also present some very interesting opportunities. Speaking to us in Italy, he was quite coy.

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

The two big seats going? Ferrari and McLaren. And both teams would undoubtedly have been thinking about Romain as a possible option if their prime targets – Vettel and Alonso, respectively – failed to come good.

While Vettel’s place at Ferrari is a done deal, Alonso is still dithering. He claims his future is “so obvious”, but in reality, that’s only true in his own head. There are two options we can see: McLaren or a sabbatical. He wants to drive for Mercedes (and it would appear to be an ill-judged risk to bank on Hamilton leaving), a place at McLaren-Honda could yet be created if the team decided to still drop Button and hire Grosjean.

Romain’s future is far from certain, and he may be the missing man of the 2015 driver market, but his talent is such that few would seriously expect him to not have a place on the grid in Australia next spring.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.