Romain Grosjean says Haas is missing a second in lap time and there is no obvious reason why as he expects the team to take an experimental approach at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Haas was off the pace in both qualifying and race trim at Paul Ricard last weekend, leading team principal Guenther Steiner to describe the French Grand Prix as the worst event in the team’s history. Grosjean says the frustration comes from how the car is handling, feeling comfortable with the balance and surprised to find it is so slow in terms of lap time.
“The current station is not satisfactory,” Grosjean said. “At Paul Ricard we thought we were going to be good. It’s a layout that normally suits the strengths of our car. That obviously wasn’t the case last weekend. We struggled from FP1 and the whole weekend was messed up with the issue for me in FP1, then in FP2 there was the mistake and the flat spot, and we didn’t do basically much on Friday and the car was quite slow in quali and the race.
“I actually enjoyed the race. Driving the car was quite nice and the balance was OK, but just the pace is nowhere. When you do the lap and it feels good and then you see the lap time and you think, ‘Well, it’s missing a second’ and you don’t know where it’s missing from.”
Haas slipped to ninth in the constructors’ championship after its failure to score in France, but Grosjean insists the work the team is doing to turn the situation around has also highlighted some of its strengths.
“I think there’s been a lot of analyzing, and it’s great that this has happened. There are things that are not as we were hoping and a lot of things that are better than we thought. We just need to make sure that the weakness we have, we assess that.
“There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of testing that we’re going to do here, a lot of different setups. Obviously we know we’ve been struggling with the tires, but at one point it’s easy to say it’s the tires — I think we just need to get the car to work the tires, and that’s what we’re really aiming to do here.”
The race in France is immediately followed by this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix in the first back-to-back races of the season, and Grosjean says Haas will experiment with different setups to try and gain more data at the Red Bull Ring.
“I think the cars are quite similar, so setup, yeah, we’re just trying different things. In free practice we’re probably going to try one option on one car and another option on another car. When you don’t have winter testing that’s the only chance you have. At least here it’s warm, so it’s going to be consistent through the whole weekend. Hopefully we can have a few answers.”