It was a less than ideal start to the French Grand Prix weekend for Romain Grosjean, with the Haas F1 Team racer suffering a water leak early in first practice that left him with only nine laps completed and last of the twenty drivers.
Grosjean felt the first laps around the Circuit Paul Ricard weren’t great as the set-up was not as he wanted it to be, but the water leak issue prevented him from returning to the track to improve until the afternoon session.
“We didn’t start with the best baseline set-up, I could feel that in the first run,” said Grosjean. “We then had a water leak and that was the end of FP1. When you’re not starting with a car that’s bang on target, it just puts you a little on the backfoot, it was not ideal.”
A lock up left him with a damaged tyre during his first run in second practice, but he managed to complete twenty-seven laps, although he was still down in seventeenth position as he continued to look for a better set-up.
The one positive he could take from the day was the long run pace of the VF-19, which gave him a boost heading into the rest of the weekend.
“Then in FP2, we had that front lock-up on the first attempt, that’s not understandable at the moment,” said Grosjean. “The tyre was damaged, so we had to abort that run. I tried as hard as I could to carry on as I knew I only had one set left after that.
“We moved onto the soft, and by the end of the high-fuel run we were in a better place. It was a more positive end to the day.”
Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal of Haas, admitted it was a challenging day for the team, not just for Grosjean but also for Kevin Magnussen, who struggled to find the best balance with his VF-19. The Dane was down in fifteenth in the morning session but recovered to break into the top ten in the afternoon.
“It’s been a very challenging Friday for us, specifically with Romain (Grosjean) not doing many laps and Kevin (Magnussen) struggling to find a balance in the car,” said Steiner. “The afternoon went a little bit better, at least for Kevin.
“Not so for Romain as he flat-spotted his first set of tyres immediately, then he waited until the track got better to go out on his second set. On Kevin’s car, the guys worked on the set-up and balance – I think we’re getting there.
“We still need to make quite a step tomorrow to be competitive over the weekend.”