Grosjean’s one-off at DAMS…why?
August 2, 2010 3 Comments
I would dare to say that we were all a bit shocked to see Romain Grosjean sub for Jerome D’Ambrosio at last week’s German GP2 race.
Why? First of all, Grosjean is neither a Renault nor a Gravity driver… at least as far as we can tell. Second, the Renault-DAMS link seemed a strong one, so breaking up the team for a one-off race by Grosjean seemed highly unlikely and more expected at a team such as Trident or maybe Coloni.
The official story is that DAMS was baffled by D’Ambrosio’s results this season and wanted to understand why they were “unable to fully unlock its potential” this season…. Crap. If someone had to be under scrutiny, it should be Tung, who has yet to impress anywhere he has driven in his open-wheel career. This is the first clue that DAMS’ search for the hidden key of GP2 success is not that clear after all.
This is the theoretical reason why no other Gravity member was brought in to sub for D’Ambrosio, given that only Grosjean could seriously “diagnose” what was wrong with that driver-car combination. Drivers such as Wittmann, Sims or Tambay do not yet have the GP2 experience to sub in at this level.
That said, why did DAMS “bring in” Grosjean? My theory in 2 parts:
- DAMS needed the money. Plain and simple. Grosjean, eager to stop fooling around in second rate series like Superleague and Auto GP was killing to get back into GP2. The key was to get back into a real racing seat at a decent team, and not a blatant pay-to-drive outing for Arden or Trident, who would be interested in the Frenchman’s cash for sure. The financial troubles for Renault F1 and its lead investors is slowly trickling down to GP2.. and DAMS is feeling the pinch. Rumors are D’Ambrosio failed to pay part of his contract, which points in the direction of putting aside the “least paying” driver, who now, it seems clear, is the Belgian. There is no other explanation why D’Ambrosio had to sit out Hockenheim and not Tung. Grosjean has some budget (not much, but some), and he has probably paid for this ride.
- Gravity is trying to recruit Grosjean. As a leading GP2 driver, GP2 Asia champion and F1 driver, Grosjean is a good catch for Sergi Lopez’ Gravity Sport Management outfit. With neither D’Ambrosio nor Tung looking like F1 material at this stage, a solid driver who could actually make some decent cash for its management team is Grosjean. Though his trip through F1 was not a memorable one, he is still a fast driver, well considered in some F1 circles and with many agreeing that he wasn’t in the best of positions to do anything significant with his time in the maximum racing category. Grosjean could be back in F1, and in the hands of Lopez, maybe sooner than expected… a win-win situation for all.
This second point is important, because it closes the loop on the issue. If Grosjean wanted to race in GP2 again, and he has the cash, why not pay for a seat for the rest of the season? Accidents aside (luck may see Grosjean in either the Tung or Bianchi cars), he could have easily convinced Arden to sit him in the highly unprofitable car of Rodolfo González or talked Trident, Ocean or Super Nova into driving for Zaugg, Leimer or Kral. The only explanation is the 2-part theory: a win-win where Grosjean gets back in GP2, gives DAMS a bit of cash and both end up with a management deal that benefits the driver and the company behind it.
Another strong bet by Lopez and his group, though in this case I must say it is a good one. Look for Romain in many F1 rumors this silly season…