Romain Grosjean feels that Rich Energy Haas F1 Team are very close to equalling the pace of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, thanks to the new upgrades brought in at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The French driver scored his first points of the season at Barcelona, after a shaky start to the 2019 season. Grosjean was able to hold back the Toro Rosso of Alexander Albon to clinch tenth and one point as a result.
After the safety car restart, both Haas cars were in the points and on course for a great result. But laps after the safety car pulled in, both Grosjean and team-mate Kevin Magnussen nearly clashed into each other at Turn 1. The squabbled forced Grosjean to take the escape road and lose momentum, eventually dropping him down the field.
Despite the near clash which resulted in Haas team boss Guenther Steiner radioing in both drivers to see them immediately after the race, Grosjean felt the car and race pace was good over the whole weekend in Spain.
“I think it was good. The car felt good from FP1, and that’s important. The first free practice always gives you the first clear idea of how the weekend is going to go,” said Grosjean.
“It went really well in Barcelona. We were happy with that, and we could get the tyres to work nicely. In the race, the pace was pretty good.
“I think at one point we were faster than a Red Bull, which is very good for us. Obviously, the safety car didn’t help us, but the car felt really good.”
Haas at the beginning of the season struggled to get to grips with the Pirelli tyres, which has hindered them in finishing in the points at Bahrain, China and in Azerbaijan. But a change of fortune came in Spain with new upgrades introduced to help improve the performance of the car.
Both cars managed to find more pace with both Grosjean and Magnussen getting into Qualifying 3 around Barcelona and in return, scoring their first double points finish of the season.
Grosjean felt the upgrades were amazing to drive with, even claiming that the upgrades were so good, the car had the pace to be close to the Red Bull drivers.
“The upgrades worked great because our pace was very close to that of Red Bull. That’s amazing,” commented Grosjean.
“I still believe without the upgrade we would have finished seventh, but maybe not so close to the top teams because our main issue since the start of the year has been getting the tires to work, and we did that in Barcelona. That’s where the performance came from.”
The next round at the Monaco Grand Prix will see a different challenge for the teams and drivers to face, as the tightening street circuit means overtaking will be very limited. Saturday’s qualifying session becomes a very important session throughout the weekend as a higher grid position will give a strong chance of securing a points finish.
Grosjean hopes he can repeat his efforts from Barcelona and secure a spot within the top ten again, setting an objective to grab a good result for the second weekend in a row.
“In Monaco you want to be in the top-10. You want to be as high as you can on the grid to be able to get a good result. Monaco qualifying is going to be important.
“Hopefully, tyres are not holding us back, as that’s something that can clearly hurt us a lot. But when it works, it really works.”