Grosjean: I think I have proven that I am one of the best drivers in F1

Romain Grosjean has matured during the course of the season

Romain Grosjean  matured during the course of the 2013 season

Even with a 2014 contract in his pocket, Romain Grosjean has admitted that he came perilously close to seeing his now flourishing Formula 1 career end. He now considers himself one of the best.

Grosjean told ESPN, “I think I have proven that I am [one] of the best drivers and that’s how I consider myself. It took some work and some painful time to get there, but I am now proud of what I am doing and I don’t think I can do more.”

But despite this confidence, he was banned for a race in 2012 and dubbed last year as the ‘first lap nutcase’ by Mark Webber. The Frenchman had entered the 2013 preseason winter period uncertain if he would be returning to the F1 grid.

Romain Grosjean has yet to win a grand prix but did come close in 2013

Romain Grosjean has yet to win a grand prix but did come close in 2013

Ultimately, having developed a close working relationship with a psychologist and no longer running into regular trouble in wheel-to-wheel combat, Grosjean ended the recently-concluded season as a standout of of the year.

In Kimi Raikkonen’s absence, he will lead the Lotus team in 2014, alongside new teammate Pastor Maldonado. But early in 2013, Grosjean was not so sure about his future.

“I remember calling [team owner] Gerard [Lopez] and saying that the contract is signed. But he said that if in the first four races I had four accidents on the first laps, then it’s all over. I replied that I thought that was normal.”

“I think that in this case, I would not have come to the fifth race,” Grosjean said in an interview with  French magazine Auto Hebdo.

Romain Grosjean had the one lap pace to match Kimi Raikkonen

Romain Grosjean had the one lap pace to match Kimi Raikkonen

He now has his personal problems under control, is happily married and a new father, but Lotus – although competitive – ended the season in disarray.

Amid reports that previously much vaunted ‘Quantum deal’ is collapsing and that employees and suppliers are going unpaid, Grosjean admits it was a difficult period.

“Actually,” he explained, “for the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics, those are external problems,” he said.

“The season did end in difficult conditions,” admitted Grosjean. “It was a particularly hard time for Eric Boullier. But it’s in those moments that you see the strength of the team.”

Romain Grosjean with Eric Boullier

Romain Grosjean with Eric Boullier

In the end, with the Quantum money so delayed, Boullier had no choice but to turn down Nico Hulkenberg and sign the heavily-sponsored Maldonado to be Grosjean’s 2014 teammate.

Grosjean admits that Hulkenberg would have been a “great” teammate, but he also thinks that he can work well with the Venezuelan.

“We crossed a couple of times in GP2,” he said, “but I think he is very fast on one lap. When everything is in order around him and with the car, and he is on top of the situation, he can be very fast, and we saw that in last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.”

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on the podium in Korea

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on the podium in Korea

As for the departing Raikkonen, Grosjean said that he had no relationship with the Finn at all. Indeed, some believe it was Raikkonen’s superiority that exacerbated Grosjean’s problems last year.

“Kimi did his job superbly after coming back into Formula 1,” Grosjean insisted. “He became the leader of the team, even if Lotus has no division of ‘driver 1′ and ‘driver 2′. Kimi of course is a special person, but we had no relationship.”

“I was even surprised when he got to Spa and he said to me ‘Congratulations on the birth of your child’. It was the only thing he said to me in two years.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Butterfly

    So using one of the fastest cars on the grid for two years in a row – at times faster than the Red Bull – Grosjean has managed a couple of podiums and, to him, that proves he’s one of the best on the grid?

    Okay, Romain, you’re #11 on the list.

  • Kimi4WDC

    Simple answer is no, Romain.

    People say you are most improved driver this season. Well when you don’t do you job and then suddenly decided to do what is expected of you in a first place, yes, the progress and results might look exceptional. While the best drivers do it every weekend.

    Frankly, Lotus should have gotten rid of him last year and hired Hulkenberg. He is just another pay-driver who is backed by Team Principle. If you think no, who would hire him beside Lotus? Marrusia or Caterham?

  • Binoy

    This clown needs a reality check. 2-3 good races and he thinks he is one of the best. You dont call yourself one of the best after just 2-3 races. It shows the level of maturity(immature) he has. Kimi,alonso,vettel,hamilton got the title of “Best drivers” after performing over many seasons not 2-3 races.

  • TWD

    He is one of the best

  • O’Ferrari

    Please grow some eyebrows.

    Grosjean really lifted his game in the sevond half of 2013. Happy to see it.

  • O’Ferrari

    You dont destroy raikkonen for half a season without some skill.

    Although massa did, too.

    But I thought kimi was the best?

    Boy, am I confused!

  • MAD EEVE

    Haha ok Grosjean! Better let your actions speak next season.

  • Ninjamonk

    based on his pre F1 form you might agree but he needs a 1 win a race and then a world championship before he should make a statement like that. Hulk is in the same boat being a great fast driver but you don’t see him making statements like this. Such a shame that Lotus couldn’t put them in the same team.

  • F1 Novice

    Apart from still struggling to forgive him for taking Button out at Les Combes in 2009…… I do think he has matured as a driver over the last year and found his feet in F1….. and seems pretty harmless to the point of likable during pre and post race interviews.

  • Ratatouille

    What is Ratatouille talking about?
    One of the best? are you serious right now?
    Maybe one of the good drivers, but the one of the best…NO!

    The E21 was an awesome car. Always threaten Red bull more than the rest because the others put more effort into next years car.
    Thats why you got some podiums.
    PLEASE DON’T START SURFING THE MEDIA LIKE BUTTON DOES AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SEASON UNTIL HE IS SILENCED ON TRACK.

  • Butterfly

    O’Ferrari:

    Fear not, for the confusion will go away in 2014.

  • fools

    “I was even surprised when he got to Spa and he said to me ‘Congratulations on the birth of your child’. It was the only thing he said to me in two years.”

    That had to be an overwhelming experience. lol

    Grosjean is good but he hasnt been consistent enough. Although he finished strong in the year to consider yourself one of the best and whilst last year basically taking the 2012 WDC from Alonso….I could never think your one of the best just yet. Win a WDC first before you say something like that. lol

  • iceman 2.0

    Yup the best year of your F1 debacle. You have reached the peak. No going further up. Your life can’t get any better than this. From now on only thing left is the downward curve.

  • Tinto

    Refreshing confidence for a troubled guy receiving psi support. Still believe he can deliver with a good car. The drivers war is more mental nowadays and turbo era will deepen the gap. The bet is on the younger generation, a younger lad is a fraction a second faster nerve-impulse wise than superannueted ones. That is what makes the difference in F1 for comparable cars.

  • Hawk

    I was wondering why Grosjean smiles all the time. Not so clever.

  • O’Ferrari

    Well, he spanked kimi in the second half of the season. Either kimi and grosjean are rubbish, or grosjean did really well.

    Which one is it?

  • Boycottthebull

    I see the blind Kimi fans are the main Grosjean detractors in the comments. It wasnt his fault Kimis performance in the 2nd half of the season was mediocre at best (after he got his Ferrari pay cheque) and it was Grosjean that was the only other driver to take on Red Bull in the latter races. But all those saying he is not one of the best, how do you know what his frame of reference actually is? One of the best to Grosjean may be within the top third of the grid. I would certainly agree with that.