Despite Formula One having a points structure that tells us who is the best at the end of each season, Romain Grosjean has told the ESPN F1 podcast that the difference in cars means there is no actual way to tell.
The Haas driver covered a wide range of topics, such as his options for 2021, races in 2012 and 2013 with Lotus where he felt he could have won, and his wins as he came through the ranks on his way to an F1 seat.
When it came to the topic of comparing himself with the others drivers in the paddock, Grosjean was elusive.
“For the last 30 years, I believe you will never know who was the best driver of each year, maybe beforehand when things were a bit different, but for the last 30 years it [driver performance] has been dominated by cars.
“I’ve had some really quick drivers [as teammates] but only the results of my career can talk for me. I was racing in Formula 3 against Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg in the same team and I won the championship. Then I won Formula 2 [known as GP2 back then] — I was leading it [in 2009 before moving to F1] and then came back again [and won it in 2011].
“I’ve won pretty much everything I have competed in except Formula One, which is the one you want, but it depends on the car you have, the opportunities and the chance.
“Never say never, I always dream that the day could come. A lot of people could laugh about it, but if I lose that dream then I lose the fact that I want to be in Formula One and I would go somewhere else. So for me, it’s important to carry on and to think my day could come one day and that I’m ready for it and that I work as hard as I can and as best as I can to achieve that.”
With his contract at Haas running out at the end of 2020, and the Formula One driver shuffle already seeing seats at Ferrari and McLaren filled, with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel still looking for a seat, Grosjean still feels optimistic of a return to F1 in 2021.
“There were a few surprises — the big one was Sebastian and then there were choices made that I would have probably made different, but I understand and it’s been fun to watch. Obviously, Carlos going to Ferrari and then there was a good seat at McLaren and that was a nice opportunity for Ricciardo and still one seat at Renault that could be attractive for the future.
“But again, with the cost cap, we are hoping that more teams could be great and I think Racing Point is on a really good path from what we saw in winter testing, they are really competitive and have done great work with Mercedes, so there will be some good teams to look for in the future. The driver market has been interesting, there are a few seats left around, but I think everyone will take a little bit of time to look at it.”
Grosjean spent some of the best years of his F1 career at Lotus (now Renault) from 2012 to 2015, where he was on the podium 10 times. He believes it could be a romantic way to finish off his career in Formula 1.
“It would be a nice story. I spent 10 years at Enstone and they funded most of my career, and obviously the last podium of Enstone is mine!
“I think it would be nice to go back there, but it would also be nice to stay at Haas or to try another team. We haven’t even done a race, but we are already talking about next year, which is a bit strange. But also we are getting into mid-June and early July, which is the start of the silly season, so I don’t know, I think first we go back racing, see how the car behaves.
“I will try to do my best and see if my level is still where I want it to be and then we will start discussing and chatting and seeing what we can do.”