Romain Grosjean: “It’s a car that should give us some good races”

Romain Grosjean is ready for the Australian Grand Prix - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Romain Grosjean felt that the pre-season programme in 2017 for the Haas F1 Team was much more what he would have expected from an experienced team, especially compared to what unfolded in 2016 when the team faced their rookie Formula 1 campaign.

The Frenchman completed four of the eight days in the VF-17, and despite a few expected niggles, the testing programme was far more productive due to the knowledge of 2016 as the team prepared themselves for the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

“It went well. You could really see a difference from last year when we had our first winter test,” said Grosjean. “The team was much more ready, everyone knew what they had to do.

“We had a few small problems, as you would expect, but generally everything was sorted very quickly. We got some mileage that was very good. Everyone was back to work discovering the new car. It went well.

“I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared to go to Australia with only four days driving the new car. It’s the same thing for everyone, so we have to make the most of it.”

Grosjean believes the VF-17 should be good enough to bring the team some good results during the 2017, and feels the Ferrari power unit is a step up in performance compared to last year’s engine.

“It’s a pretty sexy car. It’s got a lot of potential, which we haven’t unlocked yet,” said the Frenchman. “It’s a good baseline, though, and so far it feels pretty good to drive. There are a few things I’d like to improve and make better for the first few races, but I think it’s a car that should give us some good races.

“Ferrari has made a good step. The drivability was very good. We haven’t yet had qualifying maximum power, which you only get at the racetrack, but I’ve got a good feeling that this engine is going to be nicely pushing us on the straight.”

Grosjean looks back fondly at the team’s debut race twelve months ago when the Frenchman surprised many by finishing sixth at Albert Park, but the thirty year-old believes in 2017 it will be more important to improve across the year rather than start fast and stagnate.

“It meant a lot. It was a result we were clearly not expecting after a tough qualifying,” said Grosjean. “We had a brilliant race. When we took the chequered flag, for us, it was clearly as good as winning the race. It was fortunate, but perfect.

“This year, if you had to choose, I think you’d want to start slow and finish hard, and not the opposite. This is because in 2018 the cars are going to be very similar to 2017, and therefore if you’re finishing on a high it means you’ve understood the regulations and everything’s going well.

“Your next car will be on that trend. We really want to keep the development going and push through the year, improving race after race.”