Grosjean forgets Renault rejection to thrive in new championship

Just over a year ago Romain Grosjean was about to make his Formula One debut for Renault alongside former world champion Fernando Alonso. By the end of the season it had all gone horribly wrong: he was injured, isolated and after seven races Renault dropped him for 2010.

Just over six months later at Spa Franchorchamps, he has completed his free practice laps in his Matech Ford in the FIA GT1 World Championship. A hastily agreed season-long deal with the Swiss-based team brought him to the FIA's newest world championship, and he is a man revitalised.

"The experience in F1 was really enjoyable. But I think that I was in the wrong time, wrong place. Last winter was three months off for everybody else, but for me it was 10 years' maturity. It was a tough winter, but when you get out of this time, you get stronger."

The new championship began in April in Abu Dhabi and Grosjean and team-mate Thomas Mutsch stormed to victory in the series' opening event. For Spa and the rest of the season he has a new team partner in former F1 test driver and A1GP Champion Neel Jani. "Neel's come into the team to help to get the world championship, to try to help Matech and myself to win the title. When I arrived I said that if I was coming to GT1 it was not to be here for configuration. When I'm in the car I think about only one goal, and that is to win the race and to be the first GT1 World Champion."

The Independent will stream live HD coverage of the FIA GT1 World Championship series at: www.independent.co.uk/gt1

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