x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Romain Grosjean back near the top after woes of 2009

The Frenchman, who drove in practice for Renault at Yas Marina Circuit, said he considered quitting the sport two years ago.

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES  ?  Nov 11 : Romain Grosjean of Lotus Renault GP team during the Formula 1 first practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Graham and Gary
ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ? Nov 11 : Romain Grosjean of Lotus Renault GP team during the Formula 1 first practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Graham and Gary

ABU DHABI // Two years ago, Romain Grosjean cut a forlorn figure at Yas Marina Circuit as he got out of his Renault having finished 18th, last of the cars still running, in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Frenchman's prospects did not look good. Without a drive for 2010, and having failed to score any points in his seven races in F1 after replacing Nelson Piquet Jr, his future in the series looked very bleak.

Dark days, indeed. But 24 months on, Grosjean's body language was very different yesterday as his comeback to the top echelon of the sport was complete as he drove a Renault in the first practice session ahead of tomorrow's third Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Grosjean acknowledged yesterday that such had been his plight at the end of 2009 that he had strongly considered quitting.

"At one point at the start of 2010 I thought about stopping everything, stopping racing," he said.

"It was difficult, but two weeks later my decision came back, and I said no, this is was what I really wanted to do.

"I watched the first grand prix of the year in 2010 and thought I need to get back and I always believed I could do it."

Grosjean briefly competed in sportscar racing in the GT1 World Championship.

His racing renaissance fittingly began again at Yas Marina in March last year as he won there with Thomas Mutsch, driving a Ford GT1.

He competed in Auto GP, GP2 Asia and the second half of the 2010 GP2 season before competing in the full GP2 season this year, where five wins gave him the title.

Yesterday was Grosjean's first time back on track in an F1 car since his miserable experience two years ago. He replaced Bruno Senna for the session, with the Brazilian taking back the car in the second session.

He was 12th quickest in his 90 minutes on track with a time of 1 minute, 42.685 seconds.

Grosjean will also drive on the Friday in the final round of the season in Brazil, and he is determined to take the chance to impress with race seats available, not just at Renault, for next year.

He said: "It is a fantastic opportunity for me to drive the two last Fridays but I know it is a test from the team and they want to see how I have improved and changed since last time."