Romain Grosjean admits the 2019 Formula 1 season has not been the one that neither he nor his team had been hoping for, with just two points scored in the opening seven Grand Prix.
Heading into his home Grand Prix this weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the Haas F1 Team driver sits seventeenth in the Drivers’ Championship thanks to consecutive tenth place finishes in the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix, but he finished a disappointing fourteenth in the last race in Canada two weeks ago.
Despite a disappointing points haul, Grosjean maintains that Haas has developed a very good car for the 2019 season, but it does have some characteristics that makes it a little complicated at times, particularly when it comes to getting the Pirelli tyres to work as they should. He also feels luck has deserted them at times during the year.
“I think it’s been an interesting year – not the one we were hoping for at the beginning,” said Grosjean. “We’ve got a very good car. We’ve had some very good races, but we’ve also had some bad luck and a car that’s been very complicated to use sometimes.”
Grosjean says work is being done behind the scenes to understand just why there is so much inconsistency in the VF-19’s performances, especially when it’s 2018 predecessor was a much more predictable and consistent challenger.
“So, our performance has been a bit up and down, which is not what we were looking for after last year where we were very consistent. We’re working really hard trying to understand that and to get the best from the VF-19.”
Grosjean feels the upgrades brought to the VF-19 since the Spanish Grand Prix has helped the team, and he feels that this weekend’s race in France will be another good test for the car.
“The upgrades have worked well from Barcelona onward, and I think they work well everywhere,” said the Frenchman, who finished eleventh in his home race twelve months ago. “France will definitely be a circuit where the aerodynamics are more important – more so than Monaco and Montreal – so yes, it will be a good test.
“Again though, our main focus is getting the whole package working, meaning tyres and so on.”
Grosjean has had just seven races with his new engineers and he admits that when the tyres are working as they should, the relationship with those engineers is far smoother than when they are not.
“We just have to keep learning, keep improving and keep getting the relationship with my engineers better and better,” said Grosjean. “It’s only seven races we’ve done together as a new group.
“Obviously, when the tyres are working things are smooth and easy, but when they’re not, things are very complicated.”
Formula 1 will have five races in just seven weekends starting with the French Grand Prix – the races in Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Hungary follow before the summer break – and Grosjean feels it is an important part of the year in which Haas needs to score a good number of points.
“It’s an important part of the season with a lot of races in a row,” he said. “It’s five times 25 points to take, which is quite big, so I guess it’s an important part of the season.”