A liability. Too dangerous. Total maniac. Complete idiot. Those were just a few of the choice words thrown at Romain Grosjean after the Belgian Grand Prix of 2012. He was handed a €50,000 fine and a race ban for the following race in Italy for his part in a frightening start line shunt that involved two of the title contenders at the time, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Grosjean’s Lotus piled into the back of Sergio Perez’s Sauber before being launched into the air and coming terrifyingly close to taking Alonso’s head clean off his shoulders as he swiped the bows of the Spaniard’s cockpit. He simply had to change the way he tackled racing.
Skip forward three years to the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix and the Romain Grosjean we see is a changed man. He’s calmer, cleverer and quite possibly an even faster driver as a result.
The Frenchman qualified in an excellent 4th place, skipping round the Spa track in his much improved Lotus machine. He had a five place gearbox penalty to serve which dropped him down to 9th place on the grid, but that didn’t stop him claiming he wanted a podium finish on Sunday.
He got off to a pretty decent start, jumping up to 8th place ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams. By lap 6 Grosjean was right on Bottas’ tail and eventually jumped the Finn with a great overtake after also leaping past Ricciardo during the first stops. The Frenchman fell back behind the Red Bulls after he stopped himself.
He soon worked his way by Ricciardo once again with another perfect overtake and breezed by Perez’s Force India to leave him chasing down the Ferrari of Vettel for 3rd. Grosjean played the waiting game, patiently creeping up to the back of the Ferrari and avoiding any rash moves that could have ended both their races.
Luck was to be on Grosjean’s side though as Vettel’s right rear tyre gave up in spectacular fashion going down the Kemmel straight handing Romain his first podium finish since the 2013 U.S Grand Prix. Grosjean has brilliantly transformed his reputation from that of the wild young gun who can’t keep it on the track to that of the consistent and quick racer we saw in Spa. It was wonderful to see his smile back and perhaps a performance like this may just thrust him into Ferrari’s shop window for 2017.
Lewis Hamilton – The championship leader led the race with ease, continually pegging the gap to team-mate Rosberg after he had out qualified the German by a whopping 6 tenths on Saturday. That 3rd title is getting ever closer.
Max Verstappen – He finished the race in 8th place after starting 18th and some of his moves the field were nothing short of spectacular. He was ballsy round the outside of Blanchimont to clear the Sauber of Felipe Nasr by the Bus Stop and threw it round the outside and inside of several cars trough Les Combes. Some overtakes worked, some didn’t but the boy tried his very best today.
Sergio Perez – He was elevated to 4th on the grid after Grosjean’s penalty and made his way up to 2nd by La Source. Going down the Kemmel straight for the first time he even had the audacity to try and pass Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the race. He eventually finished 5th and collected valuable points for his team in the WCC.
Daniil Kvyat – Finished in a solid 4th place for Red Bull. The young Russian battled with team-mate Ricciardo before the Australian’s car gave up the ghost and he got the better of a large group of cars including Massa, Bottas, Raikkonen and Perez at the end of the race. A solid drive to further cement his place in the team.