Now one of the most exciting prospects heading into 2014, Romain Grosjean has admitted he came close to losing his Lotus seat.
After becoming the first driver in years to be banned for reckless driving and being branded a “first lap nutcase” by former Red Bull driver Mark Webber, Grosjean underwent psychological help during the winter of 2012 to prepare for 2013.
The Frenchman revealed details of a phone call between himself and Lotus owner Gerard Lopez in the run up to the start of the 2013 season where Lopez laid down the law to the 27-year-old.
“I remember calling (team owner) Gerard (Lopez) and saying that the contract is signed," Grosjean said in an interview with the French magazine Auto Hebdo.
“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."
With that warning in his ears Grosjean scored points in all four opening races including a podium in Bahrain however in Monaco his old ways briefly returned as he crashed four times during the weekend and notably ploughed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo earning him a 10-place grid penalty for Canada.
With his career back under threat he returned to the podium in Germany and reeled off nine points finishes in eleven races including five podiums.
As a result he now heads into 2014 as one of the hottest drivers on the grid and will lead the Lotus team following Kimi Raikkonen’s departure.
He will be partnered by former GP2 rival Pastor Maldonado and the two men do have history however despite that Grosjean hopes 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 GP,” he said.
Heading into 2014 the roles are apparently reversed with Lotus in major trouble financially and a deal with Quantum looking increasingly unlikely however Grosjean claims those issues do not have a major impact on the drivers.
“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.”
Undoubtedly Grosjean is one of the men to watch in 2014 providing the team can give him a car capable of competing at the front.
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