Romain Grosjean admitted the safety car intervention meant it was always going to be difficult to make the planned one-stop strategy work to score points in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the Frenchman ultimately being forced to switch tyres late on as he dropped down the field.
The Haas F1 Team racer ran inside the top ten early on but found himself shuffled out of it by the two Spaniards in the field, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jr., but stuck to his strategy call early on, which saw the Frenchman switch from the Ultrasoft to the Medium tyre on lap sixteen.
Grosjean had hoped to be able to make gains late in the race but saw his luck run out when the two Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda drivers collided to bring out the safety car, with others around him pitting for fresh rubber. He attempted to push on and was holding eleventh before the two Sahara Force India F1 Team racers passed him, and it was not long after he gambled on a second pit stop to return to the Ultrasoft compound.
He dropped to the rear of the field but climbed a couple of spots with the new rubber in the closing laps to finish seventeenth, but it was not the outcome he was hoping for, especially as team-mate Kevin Magnussen scored points for a second consecutive weekend.
“We made a ballsy strategy going on the Ultrasofts to Mediums,” said Grosjean. “Unfortunately, the misfortune kept going with me because I knew from the safety car in the middle of the race – when I was on the very long stint on the medium – we were not going to pit.
“I knew it would be very difficult at the restart, and it was. I tried to hang on to P11 as long as I could but, eventually, the two Force Indias passed me.
“We came in for another set of ultrasofts for the last 10 laps. They were encouraging as there was very low degradation, and the car felt really good. I knew things were going to be very difficult at the safety car, though.”