He’s had his share of ups and downs – and, in­deed, up­side-downs. Now Ro­main Gros­jean is ready to share a se­lec­tion of his rac­ing mem­o­ries in a walk through the Mo­tor­sport Im­ages archive

F1 Racing (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Ro­main Gros­jean casts his eye over some mem­o­rable pho­tos

1 For­mula 3, Pau, 2006: “LIKE MONACO OR MA­CAU”

This is my best me­mory of 2006. I was with Sig­na­ture in the F3 Euro Se­ries, we had a beau­ti­ful car, but the team strug­gled a lit­tle bit: we swapped from Opel to Mercedes en­gines, I was lack­ing in ex­pe­ri­ence, and we didn’t get the per­for­mance. We joined the British For­mula 3 Cham­pi­onship for this race in Pau. I won both the races and it felt good, be­cause we’d been strug­gling to get re­sults. The Pau Grand Prix is like Monaco or Ma­cau; it’s maybe not quite as fa­mous, but it’s big, and I was very proud to win it.

2 For­mula 3, Hock­en­heim, 2007: EN ROUTE TO F1

Win­ning the F3 Euro Se­ries with ASM in 2007 was very dif­fi­cult – there were a lot of driv­ers who were mov­ing up to For­mula 1. Sébastien Buemi was in a dif­fer­ent team, then in my team I had Ka­mui Kobayashi, Tom Dill­mann and Nico Hülken­berg. We were each told we needed to be the cham­pion if we wanted to carry on; it was a big fight and it was prob­a­bly the best year of my rac­ing ca­reer. In the team we were push­ing each other hard all the time. I re­mem­ber at Hock­en­heim go­ing for pole po­si­tion and get­ting the fastest time ever set there in an F3 car, then Hülken­berg beat­ing it, so I had to go on push­ing and push­ing… and even­tu­ally I had the last word.

Fred [Vasseur, who was then the team prin­ci­pal of ASM] is a real racer; he knows the best way to speak to driv­ers, and I still have a very good re­la­tion­ship with him to­day. He’s very funny and he knows how to get peo­ple to work to the very best level they can reach. I think that Guen­ther Steiner [team prin­ci­pal of Haas] is a lot like that as well.

3 GP2, 2009, Monaco: OFF TO A FLY­ING START

This was the se­cond GP2 round of 2009, in Monaco. I’d had such an amaz­ing de­but: I was first in race one at Barcelona, se­cond in race two and then we went to Monaco and I won again. Then I had a big crash with An­dreas Zu­ber in race two: it was the big­gest crash I’ve had to date. Things went a bit down­hill from there. There were a few things – I knew I could have a shot at For­mula 1 with Re­nault be­cause Nel­son Pi­quet was in and out, so I didn’t fo­cus as I should on GP2. Nico Hülken­berg was strong… I was still se­cond when I left to go to F1, but I wasn’t in a po­si­tion of dom­i­nance like I had been at the start.

Ad­dax was an in­ter­est­ing team. It was the first time I’d gone into a team where the owner [Ale­jan­dro Agag, now For­mula E im­pre­sario] wasn’t from a rac­ing back­ground. But he was a very good char­ac­ter, al­ways be­hind you and giv­ing you con­fi­dence. See­ing what he’s done with For­mula E is very im­pres­sive.

4 For­mula 1, Va­len­cia, 2009: IN AT THE DEEP END

This is a day I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber: my first ever F1 grand prix. I got the phone call while I was on hol­i­day. This was the one, fi­nally – they’d called me be­fore, but then called back the next day to say no! I had no prepa­ra­tion, no test­ing, and then I had to jump in next to Fer­nando Alonso. I don’t think I did too badly. It was very in­ter­est­ing to look at Fer­nando and see what he was do­ing and how I could learn.

I didn’t know much about F1 and all the other things like deal­ing with me­dia and spon­sors. I was shy so peo­ple thought I was ar­ro­gant. And un­for­tu­nately at the end of the year I couldn’t keep my seat – which was tough, but a good life les­son.

5 For­mula 1, In­ter­la­gos, 2011: BACK IN THE F1 GROOVE

In 2011 I had two prac­tice ses­sions in F1 with Lo­tus in Brazil [re­plac­ing Vi­taly Petrov] and Abu Dhabi [in place of Bruno Senna]. It was hard to go back, be­cause this team had fired me pre­vi­ously, and when a team fires you they think you’re a loser and you go in the cup­board.

But, yeah, I came back in through the win­dow. These prac­tice ses­sions were very im­por­tant – there was a lot of pres­sure and I had to show I knew what was go­ing right or wrong on the car, and that I had the pace and could do a good job. And then it hap­pened! On 8 De­cem­ber I got the phone call say­ing I had the race seat.

6 For­mula 1, Bahrain, 2012: PODIUM TIME!

I got my first F1 podium in Bahrain in 2012. I re­mem­ber stand­ing on the podium and re­mem­ber­ing how when I was a kid watch­ing races on TV, peo­ple like Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Ayr­ton Senna would be up there… and now there would be kids watch­ing me on the podium. I was very proud of be­ing there.

Eric Boul­lier was su­per-proud after­wards be­cause he had re­ally pushed for me to come back.

7 For­mula 1, Spa-fran­cor­champs, 2012: THE ‘FIRST-LAP NUTCASE’

I think in my ca­reer it was a pos­i­tive thing to start work­ing with a psy­chol­o­gist and learn to do things in a dif­fer­ent way. The penalty here [a €50,000 fine and a one-race ban] was very harsh. I think Lewis [Hamil­ton, whose left-front wheel hooked Ro­main’s right-rear into the air, trig­ger­ing the shunt] had at least 50cm or a me­tre on his right to move. I don’t think it was a mis­take ini­tially – I thought I had over­taken him, and then ob­vi­ously not, but then the wheel had come off, all the brake fluid came out, and I had no more brakes. I’m happy no­body was hurt.

I sent a text to Fer­nando af­ter the race to apol­o­gise, and he replied, “Don’t worry, it hap­pens, penalty is harsh, you will come back.”

I got a tough time on so­cial me­dia af­ter that, with a lot of peo­ple say­ing I cost Fer­nando the cham­pi­onship there. Well, it might not have helped but it wasn’t that. Peo­ple still come up to me with this photo want­ing me to sign it – sorry, I don’t sign it! Guys, please – it was a long time ago; I’ve learned from it, and moved on.

8 For­mula 1, Mel­bourne, 2016: MAK­ING THE MOVE

Haas came at the right time for me. I was about to turn 30, I’d had a lot of time at En­stone – and it was ten years since I’d started in Re­nault Driver Devel­op­ment. I fig­ured it would be a great chal­lenge, a great ad­ven­ture. I thought the whole sys­tem be­hind it [close tech­ni­cal co-oper­a­tion with Fer­rari and the use of listed parts] was very in­tel­li­gent, a strong way to come into F1.

Ob­vi­ously it was a risk to change to the un­known. But I’m proud of what we’ve been do­ing so far. Our third sea­son is go­ing su­per-well, and this is the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence that has no price. Learn­ing to de­velop a team from day one has been in­cred­i­ble. We’ve had a lot of laughs, and there’s a lot of trust be­tween us, with Guen­ther Steiner and Gene Haas. Fin­ish­ing sixth in the first race with this team [2016 Aus­tralian GP] was in­cred­i­ble. We had a bit of luck with the red flag, but then we fin­ished P5 in Bahrain with no help. Then in China we were 18th and 19th on the grid – that was a wake-up call. “Guys, it’s not that easy…”

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