Romain Grosjean heads into the Australian Grand Prix and the new Formula 1 season with a new team after swapping Lotus for the new American Haas F1 Team for 2016.
For the first time in his Formula 1 career, Grosjean will not be part of the Lotus/Renault squad, announcing his departure towards the end of 2015 in order to join Haas, and will partner Esteban Gutierrez in the team this year.
Grosjean has been impressed by his new surroundings, and is now looking to get the season underway at Albert Park in a team full of positive spirit and belief.
“The first week went very well,” said Grosjean. “There were a few good surprises, a few less fun but, generally, the team has been impressive.
“The Formula One world has been impressed by the fact that we were in Barcelona and able to go out and do some good laps. The car felt good and it looks like everyone’s been working together for a long time.
“The team spirit is really good. There’s a lot of experience here and everyone is listening to each other, which makes it nicer. I was very happy with winter testing and the way everything is going ahead of Australia.
“There are always up and downs and things you need to do. There’s some boring stuff and some fun stuff. Eight days is not a lot of testing, but coming from scratch, where we started, it’s been impressive. Everyone is looking forward to going to the first race.”
Grosjean admitted it was a great experience being the first driver to pilot a Haas F1 car when he pulled out of the garage on the opening day of the first test, and believed it will be a once-in-a-lifetime for the Frenchman.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, being part of a new team and driving the car out of the garage for the first time, especially with Haas being an American team,” said Grosjean. “It’s been a unique experience.
“It’s good to be able to give your advice, give your feedback. All the engineers have been listening a lot. Everyone is an important piece of the puzzle and we’re all trying to do our best. Team spirit is important in a sport like Formula One.”
The Frenchman feels the VF-16 has a good baseline to work on, and admits he already feels comfortable behind the wheel, and still has ambitions to score points early in the season.
“It’s a good car with a really good baseline,” said Grosjean. “It felt very similar to the simulator, which is good as well. It’s probably going to help us work twice as fast.
“I felt comfortable straight away in the car. There are a few things we can still adapt and get better but, in general, I was very happy with the way the VF-16 has been working.
“It’s early to set goals but, of course, we want to score points as early as possible in the season.”