The Haas F1 hadn’t had a good beginning to the season and finds itself in an unfamiliar second-to-last place. The best race for them was the Australia opener, where Romain Grosjean had to retire after a pit-stop issue and couldn’t match his team-mate. Since then, the Frenchman was placed in the centre of silly season rumours, being the one most likely to leave the series after 2019. ŚwiatWyścigów.pl’s Roksana Ćwik asked him about this and other topics in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock.
Hi Romain, welcome after the summer break. We’ve seen you had an appearance in a TV show and something to do with snakes…
I don’t like snakes. I had no idea because I had never met any but I do not like them at all. The TV appearance was nice. It was a tough challenge but in the end we managed to raise over 18 thousand euros for the kids fighting cancer, which was the aim of the game. We did very well, I think it was the third-best score of the year, which was good. Obviously they tried to challenge you with the things you are not comfortable at and I don’t like being underwater and even less with snakes, so that was a good challenge for me and I tried really hard to stay in that cage with them. But it was a good day.
After racing with a Melbourne-spec car for a while, you’re switching to the current one, which was run by Kevin. Did you get to the bottom of your issues?
I think we have a clear understanding of what’s the difference between the two cars and what we can do better and what we can improve. All the boys are working really hard to make sure that we can replicate the downforce of the new car with the characteristics of the old one.
What was the reasoning behind going back to the Melbourne-spec car?
After the first day with the upgrades I asked if I could revert back, since I felt that the update wasn’t working well. After saying it for three races and with the performance going down, the team had decided to go with it. I think it was the right call.
Do you think that with the new-spec car you can make a step forward?
I don’t think so. But we will see.
You have quite a history with Spa-Francorchamps, including a big accident and a podium. Do you like this track?
Yes, I like Spa. Obviously I had some highs and lows here. In the past I also won the GP2 title here in 2011, so it’s a track that means a fair bit to me. I’m happy to be here and I like it.
Since that accident there was another similar one last year, but with cars having Halos mounted onto them. Do you think it was the right invention?
I still would have liked to race without it.
The beginning of the season was less than ideal for you. How did the team handle the situation?
It is hard for everyone. You go racing to try to win them and to compete at the highest level you can. We had very high expectations after the winter testing where we really performed well. The first race was also good in terms of performance, but then we dropped quite quickly and struggled in both qualifying and the races. It is a tough season but it had to come at some points as part of the learning process for the team. We couldn’t just get better and better all the time – you have to hit a wall at some point and face challenges. I think it’s a part of the maturing process.
Which of the remaining tracks should suit you and the car best?
I literally have no idea. That’s a honest answer.
The silly season is on and since Nico Hülkenberg is leaving Renault, he’s mentioned as a candidate for your seat. Do you worry about it?
No. I think I have a good CV, I have podiums and experience which some other drivers don’t have. It’s the silly season, so there will be a lot of rumours but I feel quite confident.
Was it a big deal in France when Simon Pagenaud won the Indy 500?
Not as big as I was hoping it would be. I used to know him and when he won the race I was very impressed and very happy. I was hoping that the press coverage would be bigger, but unfortunately Indy in France is not as big as Formula 1.
Would you race in the Indy 500?
No. I’m scared of ovals and I just don’t want to race them.
Have you seen the 2021 car testing in the wind tunnel?
I have seen it. I don’t know if anyone had started working on anything yet, since we don’t have the full regulations and nothing has been fully agreed. But it looks alright. If the racing is better, then it’s fine, it’s good for everyone.
What do you think of the new calendar?
I think it’s ok. Obviously it’s too many races, I believe, but the way it’s been built is alright. China and Vietnam being separated is a bit hard, because you then have to go back to Europe in between. There are a few things like that, but it’s okay.