It was announced this afternoon that Lotus has changed Romain Grosjean’s gearbox, which means the Frenchman will incur a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Grosjean finished eighth in the Spanish Grand Prix, but lost fourth gear for the final third of the grand prix. On inspecting the gearbox, the team has decided to change the unit, with confirmation from the FIA expected later this weekend.
The penalty comes after Grosjean admitted he would be adversely affected by being the Lotus driver who will relinquish his car to reserve driver Jolyon Palmer for 10 free practice sessions over the course of this season. Grosjean stated the following:-
‘It does affect you quite a lot in terms of preparation for the weekend. FP1 is normally when you test new aero parts and you can do a back-to-back and you know that you do three runs of five or six timed laps and you assess what’s the best part for the weekend.
‘Then you get a first idea of the car and then you can do a set-up change for FP2, prepare your diff map, your brake map and then go into FP2. When you only start in FP2 you’ve got five timed laps on prime [tyre], three timed laps on option and then you go into your long runs so it’s much harder to choose what is the right set-up.
‘Then you can make some changes overnight but again, the Saturday morning is the not the same fuel load and under the same track conditions. It does affect you, I believe that’s why not everyone is doing it. The more time you spend in the car the better it is, especially when you have very little testing in a year.’
As Grosjean has pointed out, it would affect his preparation during a racing weekend; but if that is what the team need him to do, then Grosjean will do it for the sake of the team. As he rightly says, there isn’t much testing in a year, so the more time in the car; the better the result could potentially be.
But with Grosjean currently going into this weekend on the back of scoring points in the last three consecutive races with the team, he has the momentum behind him to do it again in Monaco? But will this happen? Only time will tell.