Lotus Renault team boss Eric Boullier says that continuity is the reason Romain Grosjean will stay on with the team for 2013 according to an article at Speedtv.com. In what appears to be a solid endorsement from the man calling the shots at Lotus, I think the team actually had to settle on Grosjean for a couple reasons.
Now don’t get me wrong, Grosjean showed very quick pace when he was actually on track. The Lotus Renault was one of the best cars on the grid for 2012. Taking that a step further, I think they had the best car during the early season along with McLaren. However, the team was not able to get the most out of the machine given Grosjean’s on track skirmishes.
“Driver changes bring unrest. Take a look at how stable the driver pairings at the top teams have been in recent years — Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren. This is no accident.” – Eric Boullier Lotus F1 team principle
Still, I think that Lotus had to settle with Grosjean versus his job in the car warranting the seat. The main reason is lack of real talent available. When looking at the 2013 drivers market, there is nobody that jumps off the paper available. Sure, Kobayashi is out there and many think he should be in a better car. However, is bringing Kobayashi in at Lotus a good move? As Mr. Boullier points out, changing a driver can lead to some difficult moments within the team as the unit learns to work and grow together. Personally, that is a chance I am willing to take if I get to choose between RoGro and Banzai Kamui. I also don’t run a Formula 1 team for good reason. I think Eric sees a minimum gain if that by switching drivers.
The other reason why he stays versus a Kobayashi? Total, A French oil and gas company that provides Grosjean with substantial financial backing and therefor Lotus with reasonable backing. This is crucial as the team looks to make gains on its promising 2012 campaign. Sponsorship is obviously very important in F1 and even more so to a team that carries a name of a manufacturer that pays absolutely nothing. Since the Renault team carries the Lotus name for charity, sponsorship from companies like Total are very important, even if that means keeping Grosjean in the car.
Grosjean has talent and proved it last season with a few podiums and some reasonable qualifying runs. Sure continuity is important within a team, but I think the real reason RoGro is coming back is there is nobody really around to replace him. Better yet, there is nobody around that can bring money to the team as they prepare for a 2013 push.