Eric Boullier was vague when asked if Romain Grosjean’s constant first-lap crashes have endangered his future in F1.
“Not for now,” said the Lotus team boss, who doubles as the head of the Gravity company that manages the beleaguered Frenchman’s career.
After his Monza race ban, Grosjean was back in trouble at Suzuka when he incurred the furious Mark Webber’s wrath for yet another first-corner crash.
“Maybe we need two separate starts — one for him, one for us,” the Australian, having earlier slammed Grosjean as a “nutcase”, told the BBC.
Pundits up and down the paddock have called on the FIA to get race bans at the ready once again for Grosjean, who was close to tears when he spoke to reporters in Japan. The French-language RMC wondered if Grosjean’s entire career could be in peril. For now, Boullier is defending his driver.
“Even Schumacher had a lot of crashes at the start of his career,” he said. “But everyone in the team is frustrated, me included.”
The RMC Sport report said Grosjean should be able to hang on to his seat for 2013, given that Lotus’ most important sponsor, Total, also staunchly backs the 2011 GP2 champion. The report also said Lotus’ contract ‘option’ to retain Grosjean in 2013 expires the day after Sunday’s Korean grand prix.
“Before Japan, there was no doubt that this clause would be affected,” the report read.
Now, the priority is simply to get Grosjean back on track.
“You can change anything you want in the environment around him, but in the end it is he who must learn to control the pressure,” said Boullier.
And that pressure has ramped up to fever-pitch in the mere days before Grosjean must make yet another race-start.
“He has a lot of talent and could achieve great things,” French former F1 driver Olivier Panis said. “But it’s not going to pay off in the long term if he keeps behaving like that.”
British Sky television commentator Martin Brundle added: “His judgement is clearly wrong in close combat and I don’t know what he can do about it.
“You can’t consciously start making decisions (at the start of a race). And then when you start getting tense about that, it’s all the more likely to happen.”