Renault are still to announce a teammate for Robert Kubica for 2010. Chances are it won’t be Frenchman Romain Grosjean, the team protégé and GP2 frontrunner that stepped in to replace Nelson Piquet following his dismissal following the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. Before that race, a lot of fuss was made over Jaime Alguersuari, the 19-year old Red Bull Junior who had only ever driven an F1 car in a straight line, but would make his debut for Toro Rosso at the Hungaroring. 

OK, Grosjean was older and more experienced than Alguersuari, and had done a bit more F1 testing mileage, but it seems that he was not given the same allowances as the Spaniard. Expecting Grosjean to be faster than his predecessor Piquet was unfair, as Piquet had raced for the team in F1 for a year-and-a-half previously, and had done considerably more testing before-hand when he was the main Renault reserve for 2007, when the testing regulations were far more relaxed. Also, Piquet had driven the 09-spec Renault for 10 race weekends previously, in addition to pre-season testing, whereas Grosjean had done little more than some roadshow demonstration runs. 

As proven by Giancarlo Fisichella when he moved from Force India to Ferrari to deputise for Felipe Massa, it is very difficult to race a car that you don’t know against the majority that have raced theirs for half a year. It seems Grosjean was not given the time, mainly by the media but also by the fans, to adjust and learn the car. Besides, he was pretty much matching Piquet’s pace, impressive given the facts I previously highlighted. Yes, both were in the lower reaches of the midfield, but maybe this was down to the car. Fernando Alonso was far quicker than his two Renault teammates, but still only managed eight points-scoring finishes. Yes, that’s eight more than Piquet and Grosjean, but this is the 2005/06 World Champion I’m talking about here. The same Alonso that is rated by many as the most complete driver in the field. The same Alonso that Ferrari courted for so long and then paid Kimi Raikkonen so much to leave the team and make way for the Spaniard at the Scuderia. I’m not suggesting that Renault were wrong to get rid of Piquet, for he was clearly not going to become a race-winner anytime soon.

I’m not suggesting that Renault should have Grosjean driving rather than the currently-unemployed for 2010 Nick Heidfeld. What I am saying is that a driver that showed a fair amount of promise in the junior categories should not be forgotten by the Formula One field, and should be allowed to show his capabilities on a level-playing field. Unfortunately most of the top GP2 drives for 2010 have gone now, and he does not have the finance nor the experience required for the vacancies at Campos Meta, Sauber and USF1. It therefore seems that F1 has already seen the last of Romain Grosjean.

The whole case raises the issue of the testing ban on young and reserve drivers, which BBC commentator Martin Brundle raised at Autosport International last week.

What do you think? Does Romain deserve a second chance or not? Leave a comment below.

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