Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are aggressive to boot. They have ired their fellow drivers too. But don’t expect them to take their feet off the accelerator. They are accident-prone drivers admitting to mistakes. Yet, compromising on their driving styles will never be an option. You don’t change something that has given you results.
“My driving style has got me on the podium and some pretty good results. The one area I need to work on is the first lap and that’s a question of focus rather than driving style,” Grosjean, who sits eighth in the championship with 88 points, told DNA.
Lotus driver Grosjean has been involved in eight mishaps this season, five on the first lap for which he has drawn flak. He took out two championship contenders — Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton — at the Belgian Grand Prix which earned him a one-race ban.
The incident may go long way in deciding how this year’s championship pans out as it has allowed Sebastian Vettel to close in on Alonso. Vettel finished second to cut down Alonso’s advantage to 24 points, which was 42 when they entered the Belgian GP. You thought he would have learned, but the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month proved otherwise.
He punted Red Bull’s Mark Webber out of the race. Webber didn’t cease to label him a ‘nutcase’. And it prompted Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to suggest that Grosjean had better check his eye.
Grosjean is taking criticism in his stride. “When you look at a incident afterwards there are always areas where improvements can be made. There are clearly some incidents where I’ve made a mistake and I’ve held up my hand up,” Grosjean said.
If you discount the mishaps, the Frenchman is pleased with the season. “I’ve out-qualified Kimi (Raikkonen) a few times. I’ve finished on the podium. I’ve raced with and overtaken world champions. That’s a pretty good record,” Grosjean said.
Maldonado may not have been involved in so many freak accidents, but has been guilty of reckless driving nonetheless. Barring his victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, which earned him 25 points, the Venezuelan has added just four in the remaining races.
His aggression, too, led to a potential podium at the European Grand Prix. In chasing Hamilton, Maldonado forced the Brit into the barrier thereby ending his race. Like Alonso, Hamilton was fighting for the championship.
Then there was the bizarre episode at the Monaco GP. He made contact with Sergio Perez during free practice, although there was nothing to gain. It earned him a 10-place grid penalty and he started 24th on the grid. That too ended as soon as it started — he hit Pedro de la Rosa on the very first lap.
“The criticism from other people has been because of the penalties I’ve received and yes, I have made a few mistakes in the past. But mistakes happen every day, not just in racing but in everyday life. The important thing is to make sure you learn from them and don’t make the same mistakes in the future,” Maldonado told DNA.
Maldonado, like Grosjean, doesn’t want to alter his method. He said, “In terms of my driving style, it is quite aggressive but also very quick, especially in the vital moments when we need to put the laps together, like in qualifying. In the race, I’m a fighter, so if there is a gap to go for to overtake another driver, I always want to go for it — I’m an optimistic driver.”