Romain Grosjean exclusive interview: In just three years in F1, Haas have the fourth fastest car
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Romain Grosjean opens up about Haas’ targets for the season, his famous radio messages and his love for Indian food
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 team’s French driver who has 10 career podiums in Formula 1, is one of the only two drivers to have failed to score points in the current season. However, Grosjean and Haas remain positive that they have a fast car that could help them score points in the remaining 17 races of the season. Full marks for positivity!
In this Firstpost exclusive, the affable Grosjean opens up about a variety of topics. He explains the reasons why Haas are only 8th in the championship despite a fast car, their targets for the season, his famous radio messages and his love for Indian food!
The season started with Haas being the team to cheer for — the best of the rest — but four races in, the team is 8th. What are your thoughts on how the season is panning out?
The team is still looking at being the 4th or 5th fastest team out there, which is amazing. Unfortunately, the season didn’t start the way we wanted and the races didn’t go our way. It’s a shame because we stand with only 11 points — 11 for Kevin and none for myself. We’ve done great but haven’t had much luck. I made that mistake in Baku which cost the team a lot of points. But I think we’ve got a really good car and the team is improving. But we are still looking good — there are 17 races to go! Hopefully our tough luck will be gone.
Tell us what the mood is like in the Haas camp?
The mood is good. Everyone is super motivated. We know we have a good car to fight with. We are passionate about racing and there’s nothing more exciting than knowing you have a good car and that you can go for it.
On a more personal note — you are one of the only two drivers who have failed to score points yet this season. Does that bother you?
We don’t have points right now but we’re not worried because we have a fast car, and it is most likely that we will score points in the next 17 races. Yes, we have missed a lot of points early on in this season for various reasons. Most of it was bad luck, but we are motivated, ready to go and ready to fight. Basically, if I didn’t have points or a fast car, I would be more worried!
When do you initiate discussions for a contract renewal for 2019?
That’s a good question. I haven’t been thinking about it too much... At one point, we need to sit down and talk about it, but right now we are more focussed on getting the race right.
Has Haas set any performance conditions for a renewal?
No, they know what I can do...and I know what they can do. I was the first one to join the Haas project. I could see then that it was a very different, intelligent approach to F1 and that it could work. Three years into F1, we potentially have the fourth fastest car on the grid — that is incredible.
On the FIA broadcast, do you think your frustrations are aired more than some of the other drivers? Do you feel singled out?
Last year they used to play my radio a lot...that’s why this year I am not talking anymore, so they don’t have anything to play with! Unfortunately, we had bad brakes and it became a big joke — it was really hurting me a lot in terms of driving and feeling safe in the car. Luckily, we’ve solved those issues and I am very happy with the car. So yeah, I’ve just got to have a quiet five-six races and I will be off the hook!
When signing up for Haas, you had said that you would hope that this catapults you to a seat with Ferrari — would you be in contention for Kimi’s (Raikkonen) seat for 2019, if it were available?
It was a lot of media talk. I didn’t think of it that way. I was going to be 30 and had spent all of my career in Enstone (under different names, but in Enstone). I needed to see a different place. I was the first to join Haas with the vision that I would help the team achieve its many first milestones — something quite unique. So far I’ve actually achieved those first goals and I will always remember them. I was here for the first Top 5 and may be here for the first podium!
Any racing series that catches your fancy outside of Formula One, similar to what Fernando Alonso is doing?
I love endurance and I raced in it — I’d love to go back for sure. Also, I love watching MotoGP, but don’t think I can race there. Rallycross looks fun — I am not sure if I’d like to pursue it alongside Formula One or after.
The French GP is making a comeback after ten long years, your thoughts and emotions on this?
It’s going to be amazing! I was never lucky to have a home Grand Prix — I came to Formula One just when the French Grand Prix went away. I am very proud that they managed to bring it back. It’s going to be a big party! I am really looking forward to see how it turns out but I am sure it will be a success.
Speaking of races Formula One has lost, you were on the podium of the last edition of the Indian Grand Prix (in 2013). Any message for your Indian fans?
That was a great race! It was one of my best races...I started 17th on the grid, but in the race we took on a different strategy, got good speed and overtook everyone. I was on the podium with (Sebastian) Vettel and (Nico) Rosberg. I was glad to share a podium with them, two friends of mine. It was special because Vettel became World Champion then for the fourth time.
To sign off, we know that you are passionate about food — you have authored a cookbook with your wife! What is your favourite food?
I love to discover food, love to try things around the world. I love Indian food (when it’s not too spicy) — it is very tasty. That’s what I love about traveling — you can discover different flavours or tastes from around the world and then bring it home. It’s just fun!
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