Grosjean banishes the spectre of Spa

Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:58pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Romain Grosjean banished the spectre of Spa and gave a huge boost to his financially-troubled Lotus team on Sunday with his first Formula One podium appearance since 2013.

In 2012, the Frenchman -- subsequently dubbed a 'first lap nutcase' by Australian Mark Webber -- was banned for one race after he caused a pile-up at the start of that year's Belgian Grand Prix.

Grosjean's Lotus was launched into the air after banging wheels with current world champion Lewis Hamilton, skimming across Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and narrowly missing the Spaniard's head.

"Of course, going into turn one, every time I take a start in Spa I will remember 2012 but I think it made me stronger and indeed allowed me to be 10 times on the podium," he said on Sunday after finishing third behind Mercedes' winner Hamilton.

Starting ninth, after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Grosjean was closing on Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari when it suffered an explosive tyre blowout on the penultimate lap.

Even without that, he might have caught the German.

"Being here today is kind of special I think, it has the feel of a race win," said the Frenchman, who has worked with a sports psychologist since the dark days of 2012 and fought back tears behind the helmet on his final lap.

Lotus had gone into the race with bailiffs waiting to impound their cars as a result of legal action against the team by former reserve driver Charles Pic.   Continued...

Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France celebrates his third place in the Belgian F1 Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps August 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Yves Herman