Grosjean wants F1 to stay complicated

Formula 1 is ever-growing in complexity, and while that is a problem for some, Romain Grosjean thinks F1 should be complicated.

Haas slumped to P9 in the 2019 Drivers’ Championship as they struggled to understand the issues which plagued the VF-19, while Grosjean scored only eight of their 28 points for the season.

Particularly in the engine department F1 is rapidly embracing more complicated technologies, something which irked Sebastian Vettel when he retired from the Russian GP and asked for the V12 engines back, but Grosjean feels F1’s complexity is its “beauty”.

“It’s the pinnacle of motorsport,” Grosjean is quoted by GPToday.net. “Whenever you want to get to the top of whatever you do, it’s always going to be complicated. On top of tennis, or any sport or business, it’s complicated.

“I guess if we do it, it is because we love it and we have people that are willing to do it behind us. It must stay complicated, it’s just the way it is.

“It’s the most complicated car on the planet and it’s the fastest on the planet. Sometimes, yes it goes too far but that’s also the beauty of it. The development of driving the future of what we will see in cars.”

Formula 1 will look to reduce the gap between the top three teams and the midfield with new financial, technical and sporting regulations for 2021, and Grosjean admits that currently it’s a war of interests from all ten teams.

“Is Formula 1 perfect at the minute? No.” Grojean questioned. “Is the midfield great? Yes. Can we learn from it? I think so.

“Is [the 2021 regulations] enough? The midfield teams say no, the top teams say yes. It just is always going to be a war between the big and the small.

“But I think Liberty are trying and I have got good hopes that we are going to have some good fun in the future.”

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Steiner feared Grosjean and Magnussen were 'unmanageable'

Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner has admitted that there were points during the 2019 season when he feared that the team’s two drivers were simply no longer manageable together.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen clashed at several points in the first half of the season, with the worst incident coming early in the British Grand Prix where contact between the pair on the first lap sent both cars into retirement.

For Steiner, it was almost the final straw in a season that was already proving to be a deeply disappointing one for the squad.

“After Silverstone I was to a point where I could not see this working anymore,” he told Motorsport.com. “We were struggling with the car, then we were struggling with the drivers.

“If I cannot control the drivers, how can that be good for the team? I put a lot of pressure under them to work, to do everything good, and then they get together at turn 5.

“At a certain stage I thought it is not manageable anymore,” he admitted. “[They] forgot about that points are for the team and not only for them.

“They didn’t think about the team anymore at a certain point. They just saw the opportunity to do good like in Barcelona and Silverstone

“Was it because they were under too much pressure? I’ll find out maybe never. It could be as well just the pressure mounted dramatically for the team.”

The situation appeared to be largely defused over the summer. While the team’s on-track performance continued to be below expectations, the tension between Grosjean and Magnussen eased and both drivers ended up being retained for 2020.

Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Principal and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team.

From his point of view in the cockpit, Magnussen felt that the reports of friction with his team mate had been blown out of proportion by the media.

“It was annoying because it became such a big subject, especially in the press around the time,” he told Motorsport.com. “[It] created like a sense of emergency kind of thing. It wasn’t really any issue.

“Me and Romain had no issues,” he insisted. “We were on the phone to each other the week after Silverstone, there was absolutely no bad thing.

“Of course the team feels that we let them down, but there really was no intention,” adding that he didn’t take any offence from Steiner’s typically forthright comments. “The good thing about Gunther is that what you see is what you get.”

And in fact, Magnussen suggested that the struggles of 2019 might prove to be good for the Haas squad in the longer term.

“I think all of that stuff is made us closer and closer because of all that and the whole experience of this year,” he offered. “This made us closer as a team.”

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Steiner thought Grosjean/K-Mag were finished in 2019

Haas principal Guenther Steiner admits that after the British GP he thought Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were “not manageable anymore”.

Clashes between the two drivers became a hot topic around the middle part of 2019, with their first incident in Spain followed by a far bigger collision at Silverstone which led to both drivers retiring from the race.

A further knock between Magnussen and Grosjean happened at the German GP, but both escaped to record a double-points finish.

Haas have chosen to remain with the same line-up for 2020, though Steiner wasn’t about to hide the fact that he thought it was all over for the pair in 2019.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he thought the relationship between Grosjean and Magnussen was untenable, he said: “Absolutely, yeah. After Silverstone I was to a point where I could not see this working anymore, because we were struggling with the car, then we were struggling with the drivers.

“It was just a struggle, and I’m not really moaning because I am under pressure at all. It’s also for the team to motivate the team.

“If I cannot control the drivers, how can that be good for the team? I put a lot of pressure under them to work, to do everything good and then they get together at Turn 5. At a certain stage I thought it is not manageable anymore.”

Steiner feels like the pressure that Grosjean and Magnussen were under caused them to stop thinking about Haas’ interests.

“They didn’t think about the team anymore at a certain point, they just saw the opportunity to do good like in Barcelona and Silverstone, they qualified good and had the opportunity to get points and forgot those points are for the team and not only for them.

“They threw that one overboard, but was it because they were under too much pressure? I’ll find out maybe never. It could be as well just the pressure mounted dramatically for the team.”

Magnussen made it clear though that there were no issues between himself and Grosjean, and said Silverstone was blown out of proportion like the incident involving Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in Brazil.

“It was annoying, because it became such a big subject, especially in the press around the time,” he explained.

“And that created like a sense of emergency kind of thing. It wasn’t really any issue – like me and Romain had no issues.

“And we were on the phone to each other the week after Silverstone. There was absolutely no bad thing.

“Just seen it with [Sebastian] Vettel and [Charles] Leclerc, how little it takes. It doesn’t even need to be tension for the tyres to explode and then that’s what happened with me and Romain.

“Of course the team feels that we let them down. But there really was no intention. So I think all of that stuff has made us closer and closer because of all that and the whole experience of this year, this made us closer as a team.

“The good thing about Gunther especially is that what you see is what you get.”

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Steiner: Drivers not to blame for Haas’ poor 2019

Haas principal Guenther Steiner has refused to place any blame on Romain Grosjean or Kevin Magnussen for the team’s poor 2019.

After securing P5 in the 2018 Constructors’ Championship, their best finish in F1 to date, Haas slumped all the way to P9 in the 2019 order.

Both Grosjean and Magnussen were left in full defence mode come race day, but they didn’t help their cause with several on-track clashes, the low coming at Silverstone where contact between the pair resulted in a double-DNF.

But Steiner still is clear that he doesn’t place blame on either driver for Haas’ dismal showing in 2019.

“I think in no way can I attribute our not-so-good season to them, and therefore we stay with the same driver pairing,” he told reporters after the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.

“I think we need to be honest and say they couldn’t have done better with the car.

“You always can do better when you’re not running into each other, but they just tried too hard at some stage.

“I don’t think I can jump to a conclusion that they didn’t do a good job this year.”

Steiner did describe 2019 as an “eye-opener” for both drivers though and hopes they and the team can use the experience to come back strong in 2020.

“I think for them [the drivers] it was as well an eye-opener, because at the beginning of the season, the car was looking good, they were both very positive about the car, and then it didn’t pan out like it looked like,” he explained.

“We ended up in a few situations where we maybe tried too hard as a team, as drivers, everyone just tried too hard to force the result that wasn’t there, because the car wasn’t there, and everyone was focusing on how can we get the car better.

“That’s maybe what we learned of this as well, to focus on the right thing.”

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Haas insists drivers not responsible for troubled season

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has absolved both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen from any responsibility regarding the team’s poor campaign in 2019.

A pre-season favourite to lead the midfield chase this year, Haas’ drivers struggled from the outset as they battled their VF-19’s chronic aero and tyre issues, a familiar theme for the US outfit unfortunately.

Strong performances in qualifying were inexplicably followed by dismal Sundays, leaving everyone scratching their head, mystified by the VF-19’s seemingly incurable set-up troubles.

In Abu Dhabi, after F1’s season finale, Steiner took stock of his team’s disappointing year, and admitted that Grosjean and Magnussen weren’t a factor in the outfit’s painful underperformance.

“I think in no way can I attribute our not-so-good season to them, and therefore we stay with the same driver pairing,” said Steiner.

“I think we need to be honest and say they couldn’t have done better with the car.

“You always can do better when you’re not running into each other, but they just tried too hard at some stage.

“I don’t think I can jump to a conclusion that they didn’t do a good job this year.”

As usual, adversity breeds character and resilience, and Steiner hopes his team and its drivers will take on board in 2020 a few good lessons learnt from this year.

“I think for them [the drivers] it was as well an eye-opener, because at the beginning of the season, the car was looking good, they were both very positive about the car, and then it didn’t pan out like it looked like,” Steiner added.

“We ended up in a few situations where we maybe tried too hard as a team, as drivers, everyone just tried too hard to force the result that wasn’t there, because the car wasn’t there, and everyone was focusing on how can we get the car better.

“That’s maybe what we learned of this as well, to focus on the right thing.”

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Grosjean determined to improve one big 'weakness'

Haas’ Romain Grosjean is determined to improve his launch off the grid, a major weakness from which he suffered in 2019 compared to teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Grosjean was once again a laggard off the grid when the lights went out at F1’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, the Frenchman losing a couple of positions from his P15 slot in the commotion of the opening lap.

“I think I need to improve my starts as that’s really been a weakness of mine this year against Kevin,” said Grosjean.

“Kevin was next to me. He was P10 after the first lap and I was P17, I believe.

“So yeah, I need to work not to lose time there. Then maybe we get more chances to be closer to the points.”

Grosjean’s lousy launches have been a recurring theme at Haas and team boss Guenther Steiner says his driver will be working with the US outfit’s engineers over the winter to improve his starts.

“Kevin is just doing a good job on it,” commented Steiner.

“Romain has said in the debrief that the guys need to work with him, because he just cannot handle the start.”

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Steiner just ignores Grosjean’s ‘little whinges’

Haas principal Guenther Steiner joked that if he didn’t let Romain Grosjean’s “little whinges” go over his head, then he wouldn’t have survived 2019.

Grosjean has been with Haas since they debuted in Formula 1 back in 2016, but over the years his outbursts on team radio have become part of the Frenchman’s character.

His latest, heavily bleeped-out rant came during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, where despite making Q3 for the first time since Japan and qualifying P8, Grosjean couldn’t help but cry out about problems with understeer.

But Steiner says he has grown accustomed to these “little whinges”, joking that he has already “aged a lot this year” and so taking them on board would do little to help his cause.

“Uh-huh, I mean I’m used to it,” he told Channel 4 when asked if Grosjean’s team radio outbursts get annoying.

“After a while it doesn’t get to you anymore, it’s like you don’t hear it.

“Because I’ve aged already a lot this year, if I still get excited by, we call them the little whinges, then I wouldn’t survive this year.

“We know him now and he just cannot control himself it he’s got something to say, so you live with that. It’s the fourth season now, so you get used to it.”

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Grosjean puts Haas’ home-race party on hold

Romain Grosjean gave Haas an unwanted repair job at their home race after crashing heavily during FP2.

Here is how the first day of practice unfolded in Austin, Texas…

The drivers were treated to, let’s say, fresh, conditions as they filed into Circuit of The Americas first thing on Friday morning. Temperatures were barely above zero. Not like you can tell…

Lando Norris McLaren

FP1 did not start off particularly well for Charles Leclerc and Ferrari but, fear not, it turns out it was an issue with the throttle pedal rather than the engine itself.

Meanwhile, off the track, Renault announced a reshuffle of their aerodynamic department as they look to hit the ground running in 2021, depending on whether they stay in the sport or not, of course.

There was also more planning for the future on track as some of the Formula 1 drivers tested out 2020 Pirelli prototypes in FP1.

Nicholas Latifi’s latest FP1 run for Williams came to a grinding halt with the gearbox sounding very poorly indeed.

Elsewhere Mercedes were staying well out of the spotlight with both drivers down in the bottom five until the final stages as they tested out the 2020 prototypes.

It didn’t sound like Hamilton was having the greatest of times out there.

Top of the timesheets in FP1… Max Verstappen.

Romain Grosjean started FP2 for Haas in terrible fashion, bringing out the red flags at their home race after spinning off into the barriers at speed at Turns 5 and 6.

Fortunately the Frenchman was okay.

With the track green again Charles Leclerc was leading the way ahead of Max Verstappen.

Antonio Giovinazzi meanwhile went for a spin of his own.

After a quiet FP1 Mercedes began to show their hand as Hamilton improved to P2, but he was yet to use the medium tyre which was serving Leclerc well.

Bottas briefly put himself fastest as he went for a stint on the soft rubber, but Sebastian Vettel needed only minutes to set a 1:33.890 on the same compound to displace the Finn.

It would be Leclerc who gave his team-mate a dose of his own medicine, shattering that time with a 1.33.5.

Hamilton picked up a handy tow on his qualifying sim to better Leclerc by 0.3s as top spot continued to change hands.

Vettel made a mess of his race simulation after spinning under acceleration at Turn 14.

Hamilton would top the session, but it remains to be seen how much that tow down the straight was worth to the Brit.

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Midweek Wrap: Max Madness, Miami in Doubt, Haas in Trouble

On the eve of the USGP, the past week saw American-centric topics come to the forefront in F1, with the usual Max Verstappen hysteria thrown-in for good measure.

Max Sticks His Foot in It: What an eventful weekend for Max Verstappen – and not in a good way, either. Seemingly public enemy number one in Mexico, the criticism has been coming-in thick-and-fast both for his foolish refusal to lift-off under yellows in Saturday qualifying, and his coming-together with Lewis Hamilton on Sunday. A guy who before the summer break could seemingly do no wrong, now it seems like he can do no right.

At least in the case of the incident on Saturday, I think it’s fairly warranted. I mean, he already had pole for crying out loud, knowingly risks it by not slowing, and then smugly admits to it in the press conference – that was never going to go down well. Sunday is less troublesome, if only because the man leading the criticism is no angel himself, and certainly had a part to play in that particular incident.

However, through both cases, I think we’re seeing that the ‘Mad Max’ of yore is not completely gone, and I for one am not that surprised. He’s been in F1 – and indeed been a force in F1 – for long enough now that it’s easy to forget he’s still very young at 22, and while that doesn’t excuse his behaviour by any means, it’s also not that far removed from his more-prattish teenage years that we should expect him to have completely grown out of it. Having not been 22 that long ago myself, I know how immature you can still be at that age, and really, all the rest of us can do is keep on his case and hope he eventually does move past it.

Another US race DOA? It’s the market F1 has been trying to crack for years, and while I think most would agree CoTA has been a success, attempts to bring more GPs stateside have proven far less fruitful, with Miami seemingly headed in that direction.

Already subjected to delays with funding and finding an appropriate venue, the race is now being opposed by local residents who don’t want 1000HP monsters tearing up their local streets.

Whether or not their opposition actually proves successful, I think it highlights the biggest difficulty of hosting more races in the US, which is that the vast majority of the public either doesn’t know, or doesn’t understand the sport. To them it’s just a nuisance, and there’s no guarantee the necessary work and road closures will be made up for with increased tourist revenue.

Even if personally I would love a race in Miami (I’d be first in line for a press credential!) the better move for F1 and Liberty if they are serious about growing the sport in the US is to shelve this second-GP idea, take whatever funds they’ve set aside for it, and put it towards marketing the product. It’s all well and good to say “build it, and they will come”, but you have to have enough people to come in the first place.

Haas Wave the White Flag: Suffice to say, it’s been a rough year for Haas, and it seems like with three races remaining, they’ve essentially thrown in the towel.

Reading through the various statements from team personnel over the weekend, you could see the focus now is on just surviving until 2020 – indeed, Romain Grosjean said literally that – which is a sorry turn of events for a team that was not that long ago punching well above its weight class.

For his part, Guenther Steiner has been willing to take at least some of the blame, and yet while that’s better than some other team principals *cough* Cyril Abiteboul *cough*, I do wonder if his time at the helm might be coming to an end. As good as he is for a soundbyte, he also seems devoid of ways to stop the rot, and his decision to bring back both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean further speaks to that. The last thing this sport needs is another Williams, yet I worry if things continue as they have in 2020, that’s exactly what we’ll end up with.


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For Steiner, Haas' 2019 season can't end soon enough

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner says another disappointing performance from the US outfit in Mexico was somewhat mitigated by the Italian’s very low expectations.

Neither Romain Grosjean nor Kevin Magnussen were ever a force to be reckoned with for Haas’ midfield rivals, with both drivers concluding their race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez well out of the top ten.

Haas’ Mexican weekend was simply a story of its VF19 crucially lacking speed.

“The way we directed the race was okay, it’s the car is just not fast enough,” Steiner said. “

“What can you do? You try to get the best out of it, especially with Kevin that’s what was there, there wasn’t more there. That’s it. So that’s the positive.”

Still, one feels that for Steiner, this year’s troubled campaign just can’t end soon enough.

“I’m not disappointed because my hopes were always very low, so it’s like the disappointment goes away. The best news? It’s only three more [races] to go!”

Unlike his boss, Grosjean was hard pressed to find anything positive about his weekend in Mexico, the Frenchman’s comments sounding all too familiar.

“It was a tough afternoon with nothing working very well,” Grosjean said.

“Let’s hope the next race is better. We need to find out what’s going on with the car because it didn’t feel right since FP3 and the race confirmed that.”

Speculating on the weekend ahead, Haas’ home race in Austin, Steiner believes his team will at least fare better than last Sunday.

“Austin will still be difficult, but not as bad as Mexico,” he reckoned.

“With the high altitude we struggled more and we knew coming here that this will be (difficult) and it was.”

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