Jean Alesi would like to see the pressure eased on the shoulders of France’s new F1 hope.
Until Sunday, Alesi was the last French driver to have stood on a Formula One podium, after taking his Sauber to third at Spa in 1998. Romain Grosjean therefore ended a 14-year podium drought for France, tasting top-three spoils in just his eleventh race in F1.
“(Grosjean as) My successor?” Alesi told RMC Sport. “I don’t see it that way. It’s promising but we need to leave him alone now,” the 47-year-old veteran of 202 grands prix over 13 seasons insisted.
Alesi is referring to the media hype about Grosjean after the first two races, when he failed to get his Lotus around even the first lap in Australia and Malaysia. He then scored his first ever points in China and seven days later was on the podium, triggering press speculation in France that the tones of ‘La Marseillaise’ are next. But there remains other pressures on Grosjean; exalted as France’s new hope, and at the same time accused of preventing Kimi Raikkonen from winning in Bahrain by not letting his faster teammate through in the absence of team orders.
“I know what I’m talking about,” said Alesi. “Since the beginning of the season there have been all sorts of comments about him. That isn’t right.
“He needs to have calm and take the time that he needs to get on top of everything. When it’s a podium, we’re all happy but when it’s a bad performance, we all have to be behind him too,” he added.