Romain Grosjean will be the first of the Haas F1 Team drivers to put their new car through its paces when winter testing gets underway at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya on February 22.
The Haas F1 Team sat down with the Frenchman for a Q&A ahead of the test:
How did you spend your off-season?
After a long season it was important to me to spend time with my family and, obviously, to rest. I was involved in a few charity events in December and, after Christmas, enjoyed a family holiday. After that it was back to Europe. I’ve been doing some simulator work and my seat fit. Winter is really the time we get to work on our physical training. The hard work has started. I’ve been a bit achy sometimes, but I’m feeling good. I’m ready for the new season.
What are your expectations for the test?
“The first thing for the test is to get the car to run and to work well from there. Hopefully, we can get a lot of mileage. This is a new team, so we need to get everyone to work together, all the engineers, mechanics and the drivers. We need to get as much data and knowledge as we can. It’s important to get the reliability sorted as early as possible because we don’t get much testing and we’re going straight to Melbourne.
Do you have a certain protocol that you follow during a test, or is the protocol dictated by the team?
It’s a little bit of both. As a driver, you want to be comfortable in your seat. You want the steering wheel to work as you want, along with the dashboard. You want the communication with your engineers to work. From the team side, of course, there is a protocol they want to follow. They want to do as much mileage as they can. It’s a big test, which we don’t get during the course of the season. They also want to make sure everyone works together. On the final day, you normally do a race simulation where you do a pit stop and you work on strategy. You want to see that you don’t have any problems so you’re ready to go to Melbourne.
You spent five years with Lotus F1 Team. Obviously, that time allowed you to build a comfort level with the team. How do you work to find the same level of comfort with your new employer, Haas F1 Team?
I felt a very warm welcome from day one with Gene (Haas) and Guenther (Steiner) and from everyone I’ve met in the team. It’s a nice spirit. It’s an American spirit. Everyone wants to go racing. It’s very exciting, as it’s a new challenge. It’s going to be something unique having an American Formula One team on the grid for the first time in 30 years. Driving the car out of the garage on day one will be unbelievable. There’s a lot to look forward to. I already feel comfortable in the team. Everyone is motivated and wants to get to the first test, and then the first race.
Describe a lap around Barcelona.
Barcelona is probably the track you know best in the world. You can name every part of the layout. There’s a long straight, then the first two corners right and left. You carry quite a good speed into them, and then there’s the famous turn three, which you try to take as flat out as possible. Turn four, there’s usually some front-locking. The hairpin into turn five, going down you don’t see the apex until late, so it’s a tricky corner. Turns seven and eight going up the hill lead to the very high-speed turn nine, which has a new curb on exit. Then you get to the hairpin at turn 10, which is very tricky under braking. Turns 11-15 are almost one corner – as a complex, it’s difficult to get a good flow around those corners. You need to get a good balance there. Turn 16 is the last corner and you want to try to stay as flat-out to prepare for the straight and get a good lap time.