Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for you. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?
“Well, initially no. I didn’t think it would be possible. Nobody thought like that. I thought, points early in the season, yes, but top-six finishes, I wasn’t thinking about that, but I am enjoying the moment.”
In each grand prix, the start is crucial, and this was especially evident in Bahrain. Both you and your teammate earned a lot of positions at the start. How much of that is strategy and how much of it is seizing opportunity?
“It’s both. We started on new tires, which gives you an advantage compared to the car in front of you. Of course, the first corner, the first lap, there are always opportunities. It can be a bit messy, as well. You just have to judge. I was good into turn one, then I was a bit blocked by (Lewis) Hamilton, who had been hit, but it’s just finding the right limit.”
At one point during the race in Bahrain, you had the fastest lap of the race. Is that a glimpse of what the VF-16 is capable of this season?
“Yes, I saw that on TV. It’s great. I think the best proof of what the VF-16 is capable of doing is the qualifying and race in Bahrain. Ninth in qualifying, saving tires, and then finishing sixth in the race.”
The strategy you utilized in Bahrain meant you had to be very aggressive throughout the race. How do you balance aggressiveness with taking care of your racecar?
“It’s a tricky one. It’s the right balance between having the appropriate strategy to make up a lot of position, but as well as looking after your car, the brakes, tires and fuel. It’s mainly down to experience, and finding the right balance between everything.”
During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?
“I think there’s still huge potential that we haven’t unlocked in the car, which is great. It’s certainly a lot of fun for all the guys and myself. We’re looking forward to doing more. Having aggressive strategies gives you some good opportunities. Again, in China, we have some aggressive tire options, so hopefully they will work as well as they did in Bahrain.”
You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday to your race on Sunday?
“It was more important for us than for others because we had so little testing, and then very few laps early in the weekend in Australia. Being able to do two full days going into the race was very important for both cars.”
For the first time in Haas F1 Team’s young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?
“It was the first objective of the weekend – to improve our qualifying performance from Melbourne. It was not too hard, but a good thing to achieve. To improve in the race was more of a challenge, and we did it. There’s lots to learn, but we’re going in a good direction.”
Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?
“Now it’s going to be our challenge to keep up with the big boys. We’ve had a good start and have a good baseline. Of course, as a driver, I want more performance. I think there are a few more parts coming in China and then a few more after that. I’m very much looking forward to trying the first updates to see if they’re working as they should. We’re not a hundred percent with the car yet, so there are still a few things we can do without adding the updates.”
Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.
“It’s a fun track. The first corner is probably the best known one. It’s a very long, right-hand turn corner. This circuit is very hard on the front tires. There’s also the very long backstraight with big braking at the end. It’ll be a good test for us to see, on a very different track layout, if we’re as good as we were in Bahrain.”