Having embarked upon a promising adventure with Haas F1 after several turbulent seasons, Romain Grosjean finds calm in the kitchen away from his all-consuming sport
meet at 9.30am on Monday, at the Geneva Country Club. This is Romain Grosjean’s home town and he arrives early – although he’s very sleepy. “I woke up at seven with the kids,” he condes. Romain Grosjean, 30, is a father, husband, F1 driver… and aspiring chef. But not necessarily in that order. Priorities are decided according to which day of the week it is.
On any given grand prix weekend tthis year he’ll be an F1 driver, of course, competing for the Haas team. But around those grand prix commitments, he lives a life less blinkered, as we’re about to learn when he dons chef’s whites to cook up something rather special for F1R. As he cooks and chats, Romain’s drowsiness soon passes, and a sensitive, interesting personality emerges from the fog of sleep.
So this is your home town?
I was born and raised in Geneva, yes. Then I moved to Paris, London and nally back to Geneva. I have a sister two-and-a-half years younger than me. My father is a lawyer and my mother is an artist.
The real sportsman in the family was your grandfather, Fernand, right?
He was a skier, yes. He competed in two Winter Olympics for Switzerland in 1948 and 1952 and took second place in the giant slalom at the 1950 Alpine World Championships in Aspen. I could have followed in his footsteps: I started out skiing, too. He died last year, but he passed his love for competition and sport on to me. So were you a sports-mad kid? Ha! Yes, I was full of energy, not easy to control. I did a whole lot of crazy stuff: either on skis or on a BMX. I’ve always loved speed, adrenaline and danger. I don’t dare think what I put my mother through, but I’m starting to understand how she must have felt now I have two sons of my own.
When did your love for cars start? My father was the lawyer for a rally team. They raced the Lancia Delta, which is still the car closest to my heart. Then he bought himself an Osella to do hillclimbs. I went to watch and that was what kindled my passion. I asked for a kart, and when I was 11 I began lapping like a maniac. I pestered Dad: “Can I race?” He replied: “Sure, you just need to get good grades at school.” I had just started at senior school and I really knuckled down. When I passed my exams he let me race.
How did you meet your wife, Marion Jolles? It’s a long story. She’s a TV reporter in France. We met in Paris in 2005 at a prize giving when I was a Formula Renault driver. The following year I saw her again at a charity kart race, a friend of mine had her phone number and I was very jealous of this! I had to wait until 2008, then there was six months of courtship, but in the end we got together. Marion still works for French TV, presenting the lottery and the football: she travels back and forth to Paris, and on those days I take care of the daily routine. We have a big calendar that we ll in to make sure someone is at home. We share out the jobs and live as a family like everyone else. Today I’m here with a cold I picked up at the nursery. But it’s normal everyday life and I like it.
You were the rst of the current F1 drivers to have two children…
For once I’m the winner! Ha ha ha! I’ve even beaten Vettel! And it’s made me better as a man. There is nothing in the world better than kids: when they’re half an hour old you love them already, even before they’ve opened their mouths. So just imagine what it’s like as they grow up. They give you strength and console