Romain Grosjean's third place finish at Spa has brought him firmly back into the spotlight, after one-and-a-half years of subpar results in poor machinery.
Grosjean’s transition from a ‘first lap nutcase’ to a regular podium finisher in 2013 is well known. However, the advent of the new turbo era in 2014 and the corresponding drop in Lotus’ form has sidelined him from the headlines.
The team that secured 14 podium finishes - and a victory - in 2013, scored just 10 points the following year, with all but two of them grabbed by Grosjean.
2015 and a switch to Mercedes engines brought new hope, but continued talks of a Renault buyout has meant that little money is flowing into the squad from its current owner. This has had a negative impact on the development of the car.
All of that changed at Spa, however, where Grosjean finished on the podium, with a car/engine package that suited the low-downforce requirements of the track.
His rise from ninth on the grid (after the penalty) was applaudable, particularly his clean move over Perez at Les Combes. Although Grosjean is a mature driver now, we’ve seen him make those odd mistakes, for instance during this year’s Canadian Grand Prix.
This result came a day after he qualified his Lotus E23 Hybrid in fourth place, within touching distance of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, the leading non-works Mercedes-powered car
While his podium finish has reminded the paddock of his potential in a competitive car, his prospects of joining a top team in 2016 look rather bleak: Ferrari has retained Raikkonen for another year, Red Bull is not looking for drivers outside of its juniour programme, both Rosberg and Hamilton are locked in multiple-year contracts, while the Williams’ driver line up is also expected to remain unchanged.
This means staying at Lotus is the best option for the Frenchman. Especially if Renault decides to buy the team and inject much needed millions into a capable, but downsided outfit.
The 2017 regulations would provide a level playing field for the French squad. Further, without unnecessary interference from Red Bull - if they jump ship - Renault are likely to make strides in the power unit department as well.
Until then, Grosjean can continue to get the best out of the machinery under his belt - as he has done for the past few years.