Romain Grosjean admits that the Haas F1 Team did wish to be closer to Red Bull Racing than it currently is, ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Grosjean failed to finish in the season-opening round of the 2019 Formula 1 season in Australia due to a left front wheel problem at his sole stop of his race – a similar issue that forced both him and team-mate Kevin Magnussen into retirement at the same race in ’18.
Prior to his stop, Grosjean had been running with Magnussen in the mid-part of the top ten, having qualified on the third row of the grid – one place and three-tenths ahead of the Dane.
Grosjean commented that the VF-19 felt promising through the Australian weekend, but fears that the gap to Red Bull has increased over the winter despite initial optimism from Haas in closing the deficit.
“[The car] felt very good [in Australia],” said Grosjean.
“I was very happy with the balance, and very happy with the car we had all weekend long.”
“I’m very happy with the work that’s been done during the winter and very proud of everyone at our bases, they nailed the new rules.
“We’re happy with our car, happy with what we’ve got and we’re looking forward to the season.
“I think we’re a bit further away from Red Bull than we were hoping,” he continued. “I’m afraid the gap could open during the year because of the resources they have.
“We’ll definitely try to give them as hard a time as we can, to please both [new title sponsor] Rich Energy and ourselves.”
Bahrain has been a happier hunting ground for Grosjean in F1, with the Frenchman taking consecutive podiums in 2012 and ’13 at the Bahrain International Circuit with the Lotus F1 Team.
In 2016, Grosjean managed a momentous fifth place finish with Haas in just the team’s second race in F1 and hopes that he can continue the pleasing run of from.
Grosjean refrained from making any guesses as to where Haas stands in the current field, believing that the picture will become clear at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, the start of the European season, where the teams traditionally bring their first big upgrades of the season.
“[Where Haas is] something we’re going to find out,” he said. “I think the car will be okay in Bahrain.
“We went well there last year, so hopefully it’ll be another good one for us.
“The big update for everyone will be in Barcelona, where it will be interesting to see more of the pecking order for the season.”
“It’s obviously difficult to say what the [midfield] battle is going to be like for the rest of the year, but at least in Australia it was very close, and it looked a lot like last year, maybe even closer.”