London: Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has responded to calls to “control” his young driver Romain Grosjean, insisting it is up to the Frenchman to address any issues he has with his starts.
Grosjean, 26, was described as a “first-lap nutcase” by Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who added that his rival’s driving was “embarrassing at this level” after their opening lap collision in Sunday’s Japanese GP.
It was Grosjean’s seventh first-lap incident this season, and while he has not been responsible for all of them, he was forced to sit out the Italian Grand Prix after triggering a mass collision at the previous race in Spa.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it was high time Lotus got the situation under control but Boullier insisted on Monday there was only so much he could do.
“I have spoken a lot with him,” Boullier said. “We changed the routine, we tried to make it not more comfortable because I needed a tougher environment for him, and I needed to push him, but he is the only one who can fix this. It’s upto Grosjean to fix problems. Nobody else.
“I think Romain has the privilege to be talented, and he has a car fast enough to qualify at the front of his grid. If you look at his career he was a bit of a hot-headed driver until he got some confidence, but Formula One is not as patient as a junior category.
“As we saw in Spa it was a spectacular accident and it could have been dramatic and you cannot accept this. Here in Japan, it is not about fixing the car set-up. It is about trying to make the kid self-confident enough to cool down and control the race start, and this is what we are trying to do since the beginning of the year.”
The situation is complicated by the fact that Grosjean is managed by Gravity Sports Management, of which Boullier is the chief executive.
Meanwhile, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado received a boost on Monday when Hugo Chavez secured a new term as Venezuela’s president. The country’s state-owned oil company PDVSA backs his drive at Williams.
“Congratulations to all Venezuelans for their participation in the elections. Long live democracy!” Maldonado wrote on Twitter. He had previously said he would be keeping his options for 2013 open.
“At the moment, for sure, there is the chance to go to other teams,” he said.