F1 2014 Driver Review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Lotus F1 Team
Car No.: 8
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 8
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 14th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

After such an impressive end to the 2013 season, big things were expected of Romain Grosjean this year. As a result, a yield of just eight points seems like a disastrous campaign for the Frenchman.

However, it does not begin to tell the whole story. Lotus has suffered its fair share of financial uncertainty over the past 12 months, meaning that the E22 car was behind schedule and always facing an uphill battle to be on the pace – simply finishing the second race of the year in Malaysia was an achievement for Grosjean.

Through the struggles though, Grosjean led the team’s charge, scoring eight of its ten points with two great performances in Spain and Monaco. Unlike his teammate, Pastor Maldonado, it’s hard to see where Grosjean could have or should have done better in 2014. His struggles were simply circumstantial.

Hopefully 2015 will hold bigger and better things for RoGro. In a difficult year, he proved himself to be a mature and talented racer, even if his car left much to be desired.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

I doubt this will catch on but it may be worth calling the Frenchman Romain “Roller Coaster” Grosjean, because he’s had a four-year F1 career with more up and downs than most drivers tend to have in the entirety of their careers.

After being thrown in at the deep end in 2009, then returning in 2012 after winning the GP2 championship the year before, Grosjean’s career nearly came undone before it had the chance to get going with several crazy first lap accidents. Yet 2013 saw him emerge at long last as one of the stars of the year, as a podium regular and undisputed team leader over Kimi Raikkonen by the end of the season.

As the team’s fortunes went desperately south in 2014, so did Grosjean’s results. There were just two Q3 appearances and two points-scoring finishes, but it wasn’t as though Grosjean lost the handle on driving. Instead, the car was difficult, and the Renault engine underpowered and unreliable. Grosjean could have lost his cool at any point during the year, and other than Singapore he kept things largely in check. It was the measure of maturation for a driver many still regard as a top-flight talent in the field, whose season came undone by circumstances outside his control.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.