Losing his Renault race seat at the end of 2009, Romain Grosjean almost quit Formula 1 to become a chef – but then he was told “no.”
The Frenchman made his Formula 1 debut during the 2009 season, called up to replace the axed Nelson Piquet Jr.
He contested seven races for Renault but failed to score a single point with a best result of P13 at the Brazilian GP. There were, however, signs of promise.
Despite that Grosjean lost out to Vitaly Petrov for the 2010 season.
“It was tough, it was very late as well,” Grosjean said in an interview with the official F1 podcast.
“Eric Boullier was then in charge of Lotus and I was in contact with Eric and they were telling me if we don’t find anyone you are the obvious choice because you have experience in the team and so on.
“Then on the 31st of January 2010 I got a call from Eric saying they had said Petrov so I was out. I thought ‘that’s it, I’m not racing anymore’ so I am going to become a cook – because that’s part of my passion.
“I went to a cooking school and I was told I was too old. They said no.”
Looking back at that time Grosjean concedes he wasn’t yet ready for Formula 1.
“F1 is not only about driving,” he explained. “Driving the car is one thing but there’s being on the outside, being aware of what is going on and the games and the media.
“So I came to F1 and people thought I was arrogant, but I was just shy. I was looking not to disturb anything. No one ever told me what to do or not to do and that’s why I wasn’t ready.
“It was a dream start. After the summer break I got the phone call to say I’m in the car for seven grands prix, to get used to F1 before the next season starts and use it as learning. Turns out it wasn’t the case.
“I think it was just the case of wrong place, wrong time,” he added. “I was next to Fernando, which was amazing, I learned a lot from him. Obviously he was very fast.
“But with all the crashgate story I was part of the furniture that needed a change. I was part of the Flavio Briatore management and even though I owe a lot to Flavio for putting me in, I think it also cost me my first career in F1.”