Eric Boullier says Romain Grosjean showed early on in his Formula 1 career that he had the ability to take wins in the sport, but the opportunities he had to do just that came too early for him.
Grosjean looks set to depart Formula 1 at the end of 2020 after the Haas F1 Team opted not to renew his contract for a sixth season, and he looks to be leaving without standing on the top step of the podium.
He has ten podium finishes to his name, with Boullier, his former Team Principal at the Lotus F1 Team, feeling his best chance came in the German Grand Prix of 2013 at the Nürburgring when a safety car played into the hands of his rivals when on course to take the victory.
“He was good enough and he would have [won races] actually,” said Boullier on the Beyond The Grid podcast. “He did enough podiums to show he has the potential to win.”
Boullier felt Grosjean perhaps lacked the consistency to become a race winner, but he was often on the pace of his Lotus team-mate Kimi Räikkönen when they were team-mates. He then switched to the new-for-2016 Haas team and has been there since day one, although he was never again a podium contender in Formula 1.
“Definitely if you’re a world champion driver, you need to have everything in place,” added Boullier. “I think Romain has the capacity to win races. He won championships in every category he raced in before, so he has all this.
“But F1 is a little bit more complicated because you need to handle [pressure] and to gather people around you, plus being in the right team with the right engine at the right time.
“I think if you look at the years 2012 and 2013, Kimi was special to make the team work for him and he delivered more – he had more podiums, he had two wins. But Romain was young at that time, and I think that’s another characteristic.
“Kimi, obviously his racecraft is just unbelievable, he has this talent during the race to control everything. I think Romain needs to be more in control…but the speed is there and obviously he couldn’t show it at that time because it was maybe a bit too early, and then he went to a team [Haas] where he didn’t have the capacity to be on the podium.
“But still he did some amazing races with Haas and scored many, many points with them.”
Grosjean has four races remaining in his Haas career, and should he start all four, he would have competed in ninety-eight of the teams one-hundred races, with two non-starts coming in the 2016 Singapore and Brazilian Grand Prix.
He scored points on Haas’ Formula 1 debut in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix and is responsible for their best finish of fourth, which came at the Austrian Grand Prix of 2018.