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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.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.