Torrential rain kicked off Round 6 of the 21-race 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship, with the safety car pacing the field for the first seven laps prior to the green flag. All drivers began the 78-lap contest on the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire before transitioning to the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tire as the track began to dry. Then, as the sun began to peek through the clouds and a dry groove developed, teams began to call their drivers to the pits for slicks. Most opted for the new Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire, which heats up the fastest and provides the highest level of grip. Others chose the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft and even the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft.
Shortly after the race went green, Grosjean augmented his teammate’s performance, rising from 15th to 13th.
Grosjean, however, soon had his race derailed when Kimi Raikkonen’s wounded Ferrari forced him to a halt while entering Portier. Raikkonen severely damaged the nose of his car after making contact with the barrier at the Grand Hotel Hairpin. He drifted into Grosjean’s path and stopped, forcing Grosjean to do the same. Grosjean had to put his car in reverse and wait for a clear racetrack before continuing. The lost track positon was devastating, as it dropped him deep in the field.
An ever-drying track brought a round of pit stops for Grosjean on lap 16, he switched to the Green intermediates.
The second and final round of pit stops followed with a full dry line established. Grosjean was first to change to the Purple ultrasoft tire on lap 31.
The remainder of Grosjean’s race was a tale of frustration, yet it didn’t deter his tenaciousness. Placed behind the Manor Racing entry of Pascal Wehrlein, Grosjean closed the gap to less than a second but was unable to pass due to wet, off-line conditions. Wehrlein was later dealt a pair of 10-second penalties – once for not staying above the minimum time set by the FIA ICU in Virtual Safety Car conditions and the second for ignoring the blue, move-over flags. With Manor taking the penalties after the checkered flag, Grosjean was classified 13th, two laps down.
“Kimi (Raikkonen) pushed me into the barrier.” Romain Grosjean said. “I had to reverse and that was it. I lost my position and that was the end of my race. It was hard to keep going behind the Manor car. There was only one dry line and it was impossible to overtake. I did something like 60 laps behind the same car and tried everything I could. The good news is that the chassis worked well and we made a good setup. I was in front of Massa before the incident, so I think we could’ve scored points, which would’ve been amazing starting where we did.”
Laps completed: 76/78
Started 15th, Finished 1312th