Team Haas F1’s French driver Romain Grosjean has had a torrid time in 2018. In a competitive Haas car, he has been totally outclassed by his Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen and has scored nil poi.
During an interview with the German publication motorsport-magazin.com, Grosjean gives some candid views of his current situation and future plans.
Romain, you’ve had some not so easy races lately. Is it hard for you to go back into the pits to the team or ask yourself our questions?
“What should I tell you? I’ve made a mistake, mistakes happen to everyone. We are not robots. I’m sure if you write an article, you sometimes make mistakes, typos and then people check you for them. The thing is, if you do it before, nobody will see it because you corrected it. When I brake and I turn behind the safety car, because the rear wheels are blocking because the damn tires are cold and hard like S ****** … everyone says something like that quickly.”
“I told my boys I probably would do it again, because I did not do anything crazy. It was only a lot of circumstances that came together. If you are behind the safety car, the temperature breaks down, there were heavy tail winds, I caught the switch that has completely adjusted the brake balance backwards. Then I braked, the wheels blocked and flew directly into the wall.”
“I pushed the whole damned race, took a lot of risks and there were no problems. And then behind the safety car, when you least expect it, you crash … that’s a mistake nobody wants to do, from go-karts to Formula 1. But we’re all just human, and whether you’re in the first lap, crash behind the safety car or in the last lap. That’s all the same in the end.”
How do you handle mistakes generally? Are you analysing every detail or are you completing it quickly?
“No, I analyse everything. I try to understand everything and why I made a mistake. What happened, what I could have done differently and what I would do differently if it happened again. I’m the hardest with myself. But at some point I decide to conclude and take these findings for me.”
It would seem that you’re having a harder time driving around the car’s problems. Your teammate seems a bit find it easier. So if the car suits you, you’re faster again …
“That’s not quite true. I think there are some things that I have problems with. The brakes were a year and a half a problem, but it should have been only two races. Then that would have been done. Then understeer. If the car understeers heavily, I have problems. Will you give me oversteer, instability, bad traction, a bad rear end? I do not care, I’ll handle that.”
“In 2012, Kimi fought with the power steering, he hated it. I never felt the difference between the three or four we tried. I never had a problem with it. We are all different and have had some problems lately. This year my feeling in the car to Baku was just bad.”
“I was really struggling to build a feeling and still was not miles away. In Melbourne I would have been without the engine problem in qualifying before Kevin. I was in front of him in China. In Bahrain, I made a mistake because I messed up the last corner. Happens. In Baku, I was quite competitive in the race. So I do not think that these statements are fair.”
“Yes, there were a few things like the brakes, but that took a year and a half. Since I said to the guys at the winter tests 2016, that does not feel right. It just took too long and we are all aware of that.”
It has often been said that you also chose Haas for the reason that they work closely with Ferrari
“No, that has been said a lot by the media. My 30th birthday was coming up and I was in Enstone since 2005. That’s a long time, over ten years. Do not get me wrong if one day I get the chance to become World Champion with Renault, why not? That would be fantastic as a Frenchman. But when I left then they were not on the way to the world title.”
“I saw Haas come in as a new team and thought to myself: I can be the first rider to score points, finish in the top-5 or on the podium. Then people look at the story of Haas and everywhere is Grosjean. I thought that was pretty cool. Setting up a team of zero and being the fourth-fastest car in the grid for the third year is fantastic and makes me very proud. I am very happy, although sometimes it is a lot of work and frustration. Because you know you can do better, but the lack of experience sometimes limits you. But that’s why I came here.”
“Of course, to go to Ferrari one day, I would never say no. That’s my dream and I do not deny it. But I did not go to Haas because I imagined getting into Ferrari. That was a shortcut that some of the media came up with. But I thought it would help me to grow, to understand new things, to become a better driver and to gain more skills to someday fight for the Championship if I had the opportunity.”
You have a reputation for having some problems. Do you think that could have damaged your reputation in any way?
“Maybe. Perhaps I do not know. When I think of 2013, when I was able to track the Vettel Red Bull with the Lotus, I can do that today! In the last two years I have defeated my teammates, got more points. Maybe my reputation is not so good because I do not have a winning car either. That is hard. And sometimes a car is better for you in a year than another.”
“Look at Hulkenberg and Perez. In one year Hülkenberg was faster, the next was Perez. Happens. We do a job where we can not always get the most out of it. Sometimes the feeling is better or worse. We rely a lot on feeling. Now we have only raced five races and everyone is shouting that it is a disaster. But we still have 16 races ahead of us. If we are good in those, nobody in Abu Dhabi will remember that we lost our bikes in Australia, I crashed Baku and lost parts of our car in Bahrain.”
The reputation is influenced to some extent by the media …
“Yes, very much.”
Do you think that the people who make the decisions in Formula 1, do not look at the reputation, because they know better themselves?
“I do not know. My honest answer.”
Does the team boss look more at the news feed of the websites or at GPS data and Co?
“That may be more of a question for Günther. I honestly do not know. I know that the British press does not like me very much. Maybe because I’m French. But I am very honest with the media and always tell the truth. I do not talk shit like others would. Maybe that’s not good, but that’s me. And I prefer to be content and proud of the personality I am, instead of saying that I drove the car that everyone else had parked in the first lap to seventh place in Baku.”
Then is it likely that you will stay at Haas for one, two or three more years?
“Yes, I would be happy to stay. And I think the team sees it the way we do. Of course I do not want to speak for the team here. But I would be happy to continue here because we are not done yet and I think we can do more. Especially with the rules from 2021. This should give opportunities for the teams to remix the balance of power. But we will see what the future holds.”
The Ferrari dream is still alive?
“Of course. Of course you have to deliver a top job. Of course, if you ask me now, my start of the season is not what you want to have a chance. But if I drive into the top five in the next three or four races, Grosjean is the hero. From Zero to Hero. In Baku, I was zero in qualifying and almost became a hero in the race. Sure, that did not happen. But we all have a very short memory.”