There are Formula 1 drivers with successful careers. Then there are drivers who end up accumulating rather ordinary returns despite having had a long run in the sport. Where you’d place Romain Grosjean depends on your obvious sense of judgment about his stay in the sport, which doesn’t require one to be an Einstein or a racing pundit of a very high pedigree.
That Romain Grosjean competed in Formula 1 for over a decade suggests he had a fairly long run and his talented attracted the faith of his team and his backers, which eventually culminated in a career that ended only in 2020. But that despite having no fewer than 181 race entries, the French-Swiss driver managed no more than 10 podiums- and no victories- seems to suggest his wasn’t exactly a fairytale career.
Each of his ten podiums came with the very team with which, at one point in time, most noticeably, circa 2012-13, Romain Grosjean appeared a very capable drive- Lotus. And one of his standout Lotus podiums would come on this very date, albeit in 2015, at a time where Formula 1 was riddled by the Hamilton versus Rosberg rivalry.
A podium, which, six years back in time, would mark the last-ever for the noted Geneva-born driver.
In the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, held every year at a track which is as beautiful as it is serene, the Spa-Francorchamps, Romain Grosjean excelled for Lotus bagging a third whilst having originally bagged fourth on the qualifying grid.
A race that was eventually aced by Sir Lewis Hamilton, who was then in his third year with Mercedes, saw Romain Grosjean deliver one of his best-ever Formula 1 drives, a performance that was high in result but equally difficult to stitch together.
That’s because despite suffering from a gearbox change that would strike Lotus and their then main-man a five-place grid drop, resulting in Romain starting from ninth on the grid, the former F1 driver would deliver a measured performance ending behind both Mercedes’.
After making up several places during different stages of the race, Romain would strike his finest blow toward the closing stages. And it would be a closely-fought battle with Sebastian Vettel, in his maiden season with Ferrari, that would make the glittering highlight for the former Haas driver.
Under constant pressure from the Lotus, with only a handful of laps to go, the German driver would bow out of the contest owing to a tyre failure, lap 42. Kimi Raikkonen‘s lukewarm P7 in the end would see the only Ferrari finishing in points.
Not a contest dominated by the likes of Ferrari with McLaren having a particularly insipid car, the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, it could be said, was the triumph of the underdog, with many perhaps not remembering that Spa also saw something special from Daniil Kvyat, then with Red Bull racing.
The Russian would collect a fighting fourth in finishing over seven seconds behind the podium-bagging Lotus of Grosjean. The pressure, however, to score for Lotus in the Grand Prix, had always been on the Frenchman as his then-teammate Pastor Maldonado would retire in only the second lap of the race owing to technical issues.
The following is how Grosjean would reflect on a definitive drive that showed he had mettle if not necessarily world championship winning potential:
“It’s good for the team and for myself of course. Yesterday’s good qualifying result put a smile on my face but today was an unbelievable race. Everything came together when it mattered during those 43 laps. I drove with my heart today and pushed 100 percent throughout the race.”
Furthermore, back in the day, here’s how Gastaldi, then Lotus’ team principal would reflect on Romain’s effort:
“Our joy for Romain and the team is a little bittersweet because of the retirement for Pastor, who started his race ahead of Romain so could have finished equally strongly. We will do everything we can to get both cars in strong positions in Monza!”