Romain Grosjean said that he was “proud” of the way he turned his 2018 season around after a first half littered with mistakes and stated that he will not accept a similar start to 2019.
The Haas F1 Team driver found himself in trouble numerous times with his team and fellow drivers early last year, most notably in successive races in Azerbaijan and Spain.
Grosjean suffered an embarrassing crash when warming up his tyres behind the Safety Car in the Azeri capital when running in sixth position with just nine laps to go. Two weeks’ later the Frenchman lost control when attempting to go around the outside of Turn 3 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, spinning into the pack and lighting up his rear tyres in a bid to recover the situation. However, his actions created an unwanted smokescreen for the following Pierre Gasly and Nico Hülkenberg who both made hefty contact with the Haas.
The consequence was a three-place grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix and two penalty points on his licence. Grosjean came close to a race ban after collecting a further two points in Singapore for ignoring blue flags, briefly taking his total to nine points – three away from the twelve required for a ban – over a twelve month period.
But Grosjean managed to recover his form, starting with a superb fourth place in Austria, to reverse his fortunes and secure a new contract with Haas. The 32-year-old said that part of solving the problem was finding out what he was doing wrong, admitting that he was pleased with his display of mental fortitude.
“It’s been interesting, and I’m quite proud of the way I bounced back as well,” he told Motorsport.com.
“At one point people were thinking I should stay at home. I thought that I still had it. And I still had it, I just needed to understand why I was just not getting it right. I hope [I’ve realised what was needed to change]. You never know until you’ve done it.
“But so far I’ve always learned my lessons and not done the same mistake twice and hopefully that’s the same case again.”
Grosjean came under similar scrutiny in 2012 at Lotus for causing a number of first-lap incidents, the most serious coming at the Belgian Grand Prix where he collided with Lewis Hamilton and went over the top of Fernando Alonso‘s Scuderia Ferrari car, eliminating them both. The result was a one-race ban.
Former Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber went on to label Grosjean a “first-lap nutcase” following a coming together at the start of that year’s Japanese Grand Prix, two races after the Frenchman’s return.
When asked was was required to prevent a reoccurrence in 2019, Grosjean said that he would not forgive himself for another lapse.
“[I cannot] have the same mistakes as I had this year,” he added. I don’t think I would pardon myself if I had another start of the season as I had.”