Romain Grosjean says he would like to see more teams like his Haas F1 Team in Formula 1, as he feels the sport would benefit from having people with high ambitions and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers.
The Frenchman has been a part of the team since they made their debut back in 2016 and will race for a fourth campaign with them in 2019 despite having an often-troubled season that saw him wind up fourteenth in the championship with thirty-seven points.
However, Grosjean feels Haas’ presence in Formula 1 makes the sport ‘great’ and he feels having more teams like them would be an asset to the sport.
“Haas is one of the things that make F1 great,” said Grosjean in a column for The Players’ Tribune. “The team is filled with determined goal-setters, out-of-the-box technical thinkers and yes, even crazy dreamers.
“I’m lucky to be a part of this team. F1 needs more teams like Haas.”
Grosjean looks back at his first race with the team in Australia back in 2016, a race that saw the team finish a remarkable sixth. However, whilst on the outside it was an impressive performance, pre-season had been troubled and it left the team uncertain to how they would perform compared to their rivals.
“Our first grand prix in Australia in 2016 was chaotic,” said Grosjean. “We didn’t get a lot of laps in pre-season testing so we had barely any info on the car going into Melbourne. Then it rained on Friday, so no laps. We didn’t even know if the radio worked.
“On Saturday, we finally got out of the garage and someone hit us in the pit lane. We had to change the floor of the car and we missed even more time. Then qualifying was a disaster because F1 had implemented that new, ridiculous elimination-style quali that ended up getting removed a few weeks later.
“But then Sunday happened. And the race ended, and we were in sixth place. P6. In the points. Unbelievable. Truly amazing.
“Beforehand, we thought we might be lucky to finish the race. Our telemetry failed during the grand prix. Our radio failed at times. Our car hadn’t even driven a full race distance leading up to that weekend.”
Grosjean says he will always look back at that first race with Haas with fondness, particularly as he felt finishing sixth was like a win. He has subsequently taken the team’s best ever finish in Formula 1 with fourth place in the Austrian Grand Prix in 2018, but he acknowledges that the team are not just there to make up the numbers and Team Owner Gene Haas will be looking to take them to the front of the field.
“When I look back on my career, I’ll think of that day right away,” admits the Frenchman. “I love that story. I loved that weekend. That’s because, often, F1 can seem like a sport where the underdogs have so little chance. And I know as much as anyone that it can be like that.
“But when results like Australia 2016 happen, and you can see first-hand what a group of determined individuals can do … it makes you believe in yourself even more.
“Like I said on the radio in Australia, “winning” for each team can mean different things. The realities of F1 are clear: There are two or three teams that have the personnel and the budget to have a realistic chance at winning races consistently.
“That’s just the way it is. It’s not good, or bad, it’s just like that. It can make life in the middle a little tricky. But I know this: Gene Haas isn’t in F1 to finish in the middle. And that’s why I’m so excited about our future. I’m excited for this winter, for testing, to see the new car. Because I believe in us.
“And we know, at Haas, how tough the task is in the next few years if we want to be up there with the big dogs.”