Although the dismissal of Nelson Piquet Jr threatens to cause Renault F1 more headaches than when the Brazilian was in harness alongside Fernando Alonso, the team is pleased with replacement Romain Grosjean, despite his first lap exit in Belgium.
Ignoring the fact that Grosjean precipitated the four-car pile-up at Les Combes by tagging the back of Jenson Button's Brawn, Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds admitted that he had been immediately happy with the young Frenchman's performance in Valencia, and again with what he showed in the early stages of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend.
"His first race in Valencia impressed me a lot as he continually improved, found the limits of the car, kept out of trouble and had a solid race," Symonds reflected, "At Spa, I was impressed with him again, particularly in the wet free practice because it was the first time he had driven a F1 car in the wet. In qualifying, he didn't get a perfect lap and was unlucky with traffic, and then, in the race, he got caught up in the incident with Button. That was a shame as it would have been valuable for him
to gain some more experience in racing conditions."
Grosjean will make his third F1 appearance this weekend, as the circus heads to Monza for the final European round of the 2009 campaign, and is determined to make amends for his early exit in Belgium.
"My race was very disappointing," the GP2 graduate admitted, "I had some problems in qualifying so I started at the back of the grid but, at the start of the race, things were looking good as I made up five or six places on the first lap. Then I got caught up in the incident at turn five. It was frustrating to retire so early as I need as much time in the car as possible and I really wanted to finish my first race at Spa, which is a circuit that I love."
That affinity is shared with this weekend's venue, with Grosjean looking forward to returning to the fast Monza layout - even if he has something new to learn about.
"It's another classic track and I've had good results there in the past," he noted, "I know the track well, so I can concentrate on finding a good balance with the car with low downforce, but we will be using KERS this weekend so I will need to get used to that during free practice on Friday as I've not used it before. However, it should give us an advantage, especially at the start of the race.
"At the moment, I am still learning about F1 and I will continue to use every opportunity and every lap to improve as a driver and help the team. I'm continuing to build a good relationship with my engineers, which of course plays an important role in getting the most from the car. My aim for this weekend is to do better than I did at Spa, so I need to make it through to at least Q2, get a good grid position and finish the race."