[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] ROMAIN GROSJEAN: STRUGGLING RACER

Romain Grosjean’s Formula 1 career with Haas hangs in the balance, as the sport moves into the second half of the year. Germany a reprieve, as the 33-year-old earned his first points since Monaco.

The Swiss-French racer is now in his fourth year with the American team, his eighth full season in F1, and has on balance underwhelmed as the squad’s race pace tyre struggles roll on.

After 11 rounds, Grosjean has been marginally outqualified by his teammate Kevin Magnussen 6-5, with one lap pace his strength, but while he’s ahead 5-1 in races when they could be compared, he’s down on points.

… with just eight to Magnussen’s 18, earned in Spain and Monaco, before six points for seventh at Hockenheim.

Neither, though, has done their reputation any justice hitting each other multiple times this season in Germany, Barcelona and again at the British Grand Prix, where both retired as a result.

“Both of them, it is not acceptable what happened," said Haas team boss Guether Steiner. "I was pretty clear with them after Barcelona, what not to do.”

Rewind to 2016, and Grosjean was riding a wave of confidence… having scored 10 podiums in the previous four seasons with Lotus. The move to Haas a side-step, but coming with lots of potential benefits.

SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“I like the idea of the 50-50 partnership with Ferrari and I like the way everything has been going. I'm very happy that I made that decision.”

And the squad felt it’d chosen the right lead driver, a level head who was able to develop the start-up team and, importantly, bring home points from the outset.

SOUNDBITE (English) GUENTHER STEINER,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, HAAS:
“He's still aggressive and still wants it enough, but he's not so young that he's inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes.”

And Grosjean started strongly, sixth on his Haas debut in Australia and went on to be the team’s only scorer in 2016, 29 points against Esteban Gutiérrez, who proved to be out of his depth.

SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
"Joining Haas was a great choice, this time in my career I thought a new challenge would be pretty awesome and I wanted to be the first driver to score points for the team.”

Enter Magnussen in 2017, who was to become a far tougher teammate, and who he outscored that season 28 points to 19.

But Grosjean’s fall from grace began last year, with the first half of 2018 littered with mistakes… like his crash under the safety car in Azerbaijan or the multi-car pile-up he created in Spain.

The errors signalling a return to his erratic past, one he had managed to move on from with the help of a sports psychologist.

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?”

A stronger second half of 2018, with 37 points scored in the last 13 races, saw him retained for this season. But he has not delivered across the last 11 races, despite being stuck with an Australia-spec car for the last two as Haas tries to solve its tyre issues.

As a result… rumours swirl he may be replaced after F1’s summer break, but a more likely scenario is for 2020. Nico Hulkenberg a prime candidate, should Esteban Ocon replace him at Renault.

It’s crunch time for Grosjean at Haas.