Despite Haas’s competitive car, Romain Grosjean is enduring his worst start to a season since 2014 – with the Frenchman failing to score a point across the first four rounds, and retiring twice.
Grosjean is in his third year with the American Haas team but is struggling in relation to teammate Kevin Magnussen, who is a more adaptable driver according to the squad’s team principal Guenther Steiner.
"The car needs to be perfect to Romain’s liking, whereas Kevin can drive around a lot of things," said Steiner. "It is both things, plus and minuses, to be honest.”
Grosjean has developed hugely since his mid-season F1 debut for Renault in 2009, the Frenchman dropped for the following year on account of his results – forcing him to return to GP2, where he won the title in 2011.
He rejoined F1 with Lotus the next year, but his erratic style led to a massive pile-up at the Belgian Grand Prix, and a one-race ban. Mark Webber labelling him a “first lap nutcase” after another clash in Japan.
But use of a sports psychologist helped him to focus, and build on the run of podiums he’d scored – taking five in 2013, including a second in Austin.
SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“We use engineers to set up the car, we use trainers to get our body fit, why wouldn’t we use psychologists to get our mental side right?”
He then joined American startup team, Haas, from 2016 for a new opportunity.
SOUNDBITE (English) GENE HAAS,
FOUNDER, HAAS F1 TEAM:
“He is going to be our lead driver and we are going to depend heavily on him to help us with our strategies, with the car, with the racetracks and just the learning of the whole operations of an F1 team."
Bad luck has affected Grosjean’s results this year with a cross-threaded wheel nut costing him sixth in Australia. While the Frenchman ran as high as sixth again in Azerbaijan, before crashing out under the safety car. The car breaking loose while he warmed up his ultrasoft tyres.
Regardless, Grosjean knows this is just a temporary blip with the VF18 a strong car and 17 races to go. The only way is up from here.