Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says Romain Grosjean’s recovery from a poor start to the 2018 season was “amazing” as the Frenchman turned his season around.
Grosjean was scoreless in the opening eight races last year, with a pit stop error in Australia robbing him of a top-five finish and further points thrown away when he crashed behind the Safety Car in Baku. Fourth place in Austria kick-started an impressive turnaround that saw Grosjean scored in four out of five races, a run that ended after he was disqualified from sixth place in Italy.
Steiner acknowledges the slow start was damaging to Haas’ hopes of finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship, but says the manner in which Grosjean recovered gives him confidence for the future.
“I think it cost us but it wasn’t only him,” Steiner told RACER. “He recovered well, which is quite amazing and I hope we can keep it like this. He promised me ‘I found the key,’ and I said ‘Don’t lose the key anymore because we don’t need that!’ He found the key why it happened, OK, hang on to the key!
“So I hope he does that. I don’t know what it is, he apparently does, and since he told me he didn’t mess anything up — at least nothing substantial, you always take a risk when you go racing and cannot be perfect so I’m not expecting that. So I think if he keeps his head focused he will be fine.”
Haas ended up fifth in the constructors’ standings — 29 points adrift of Renault — and while Steiner says the team only has itself to blame for missing out on fourth, he says last season’s achievement should not be underestimated.
“I still think it’s positive for the team. Never forget that we were only in our third year. We keep on forgetting that one and I do as well. I don’t like to use it as an excuse that we didn’t get fourth, but if I would have told anybody four years ago – when we were around and scouting things out a little bit — that in our third year we would be fighting for fourth position, I mean, people would have taken me to the madhouse!
“In the end I’m still happy about it. All of the guys can be proud of what we achieved, because we are still just a small team. We are very small, they all work hard and we achieved a lot so it’s down to them. So all in all, yes, you are always disappointed when you get up in the morning and say ‘we could have been fourth’, but ‘if’ and ‘when’ doesn’t work. We are fifth, which is still a good result, and at least we have got something to go for for next season.”