Romain Grosjean is a wanted man according to Lotus F1 team owner Gerard Lopez, who admits that the Frenchman’s performances at the tail end of 2013 and through the team’s difficult start to this season has seen his stock seriously rise.
After a troubled first season following his return to Formula One in 2012, which saw Grosjean involved in a number of accidents, and culminated in a one-race ban for his part in the start-line crash at the Belgian Grand Prix, the 28-year-old set about rebuilding his reputation last year, with a flurry of podium finishes at the close of the season, with an equal career best finish of second in the United States a particular highlight.
While the Frenchman has been unable to repeat these highs in the early part of 2014, owing to Lotus’ troubled start to the season, he did collect the team’s first points of the year in Spain two weeks ago, with an eighth place finish.
As Lopez explains, it is these performances that have led a number of other teams to enquire about the future services of the Frenchman, which could see Lotus forced to wave goodbye to their now star man.
“We don’t have the budget of some of the other teams, so there is a point up until which we will fight,” Lopez told Press Association. “But Romain is really happy here, he is part of the family, and I don’t think he is planning on going anywhere.
“His drives last year meant there were a couple of teams knocking on the door to find out what he was doing, and now we’ve the same this year.
“I’m not saying Romain is going, but what I am saying is that here is a driver who was criticised, and now suddenly people are saying he is a driver who could pretty much drive for any team.”
Grosjean’s Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who joined from Williams over the winter, has faced similar criticism to the Frenchman throughout his career, with question marks once again raised over the Venezuelan’s temperament and inconsistent form following a series of recent accidents and near-misses, the latest incident coming at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he crashed out in qualifying, at the same track he spectacularly won on two years previously.
Yet, despite a less than stellar start to his career at Lotus, team owner Lopez believes that Maldonado, like Grosjean before him, is a driver that can be tamed.
“He’s a driver who needs to understand that in certain circumstances, with his speed, then 95, 96, 97 per cent should get him to where he wants to be, and then once in Q3 give it 100, 105, said the Luxembourg-born businessman. “We’ve lived partially the same thing with Romain, and people wrote him off, but now, as I say, we’ve people knocking on our door to see if he can be in their team.
“We will take a long-term view on things, so we’re not particularly worried. We’ll get the best out of Pastor.
“We think we can do the same with him, as we did with Romain, to ensure he is at his best every race weekend, and consistently throughout the weekend. I have a lot of faith in him.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic