Error-prone Haas driver is once again under heavy fire from fellow drivers after his mistake at the Spanish Grand Prix led to two others crashing out trying to avoid him
After Barcelona blunder, Romain Grosjean's dream of driving for Ferrari one day up in smoke
Romain Grosjean has been here before. The Haas driver once again finds himself under the microscope after a mistake led to him crashing out of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix and eliminating others in the process.
Back in 2012, in his first full season in Formula One, the Frenchman was labelled a “first-lap nutcase” by Mark Webber after the pair had tangled at the Japanese Grand Prix in the opening corners.
This had come after an earlier incident that year that led to Grosjean becoming the first driver since Mika Hakkinen in 1994 to be banned for a race after causing a spectacular first-lap crash in Belgium that eliminated title challengers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Grosjean subsequently admitted a few years later that he had seen a psychologist to help him understand why he was making wrong decisions under pressure. He may require a few more sessions after his latest spectacular error of judgement.
Grosjean's car spun on the entrance to Turn 3 at the Circuit de Catalunya and in attempting to recover from the mistake he careered across the track, smoke billowing from his tyres, and he was hit by both Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly.
What was odd about the incident was Grosjean admitted to race stewards that he allowed the car to roll back across the track in trying to recover from the spin.
A bit of an odd move considering he had around 10 cars behind him at the time. All were forced to navigate a safe way around a car clearly out of control. Unfortunately Hulkenberg and Gasly were unable too.
Hulkenberg did not hold back in his disdain of Grosjean when he spoke to media after the incident. “He didn’t look great in that scenario, generally he likes spinning, but on the first lap is not a good time to do it with everyone there. He has to look at it and do some work on himself,” said the disgruntled German.
Grosjean, under the circumstances, probably can consider himself fortunate to escape with just a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco on May 27.
Mistakes do happen. Grosjean's reaction in how he tried to recover from the spin was poor and he needs to learn from it quickly. But this is part of a bigger problem for the former Lotus driver; his stock in F1 is at its lowest point.
Grosjean, 32, has yet to score a point in five races this seasonand he has been largely out-performed by his teammate Kevin Magnussen, who has scored all 19 of the Haas team’s points.
He crashed into the barriers behind the safety car in Azerbaijan last month when looking well set for a top-10 finish. He blamed the embarrassing error on accidentally pushing the wrong button on the steering wheel.
When Grosjean moved to Haas in 2016 it was with an eye to getting a top drive in F1. After his rocky start with Lotus in 2012, he had matured into a fine driver, quick and capable of leading a team. The move, Grosjean calculated, given Haas' close relationship with Ferrari, was to earmark him as a potential replacement for when Kimi Raikkonen retires.
There is no chance of that happening now with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc in contention ahead of him.
After a bright start at Haas, Grosjean and the team struggled last year. His constant moaning on the team radio about problems with the car did little to endear himself either.
A driver moaning about an underperforming car is not uncommon; just look at Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Most can look beyond that though, put up with the moans and the mistakes, if the driver has the speed. But even that seems to have deserted Grosjean. Magnussen is doing much the better job of the two. From dreaming of one day racing for Ferrari, Grosjean's F1 future now looks in serious doubt.
Haas have a good car this year, with Magnussen twice finishing in the top six already. Grosjean has had some bad luck with reliability, but he is still regularly beaten by a teammate who is rebuilding his own reputation after a difficult start to his F1 career.
Grosjean has a long two weeks to think about his Barcelona blunder but he faces a tough task in Monaco and the coming races.
Keep it clean and avoid mistakes, while raising his game to match and beat Magnussen. Whether he can or not may well define his long-term future in F1.