F1 2014 Driver Review: Romain Grosjean


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.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”