Romain Grosjean faces a decisive year in his career following the 2018 season, in which his performance had cast some doubts. The French driver hopes to extend his scoring streak at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, where he last scored points in 2017.
How is the atmosphere in the team after a tough start to the season?
It’s good, of course we have some work to do and we need to understand why the car isn’t performing as well as we would like it to. Also, we still need to analyse why we started the pre-season almost perfectly, and why after that we’re certainly struggling in the race.
Kevin Magnussen, however, has not struggled as much as you so far this season. How is your relationship with him? Are you focusing more on beating him rather than to feel comfortable in the car?
I think that for the moment we have to focus on the car, because I don’t give a damn if he’s sixth and I’m seventeenth. I’d rather have a 7-8 or 6-7 than being far at the back, so it’s not the priority; obviously, I’ll be honest to say that it’s a nice feeling to be in front of your team mate in qualifying, but the most important thing now is definitely to get the team stronger.
And in order to do so, your team must find a solution for the struggle with the tyres, right?
Yes, but all the teams have the same tyres and all the teams got them to work while we haven’t been able to do so. And since tyres aren’t going to change anytime soon, we simply need to work better with what we have.
I think that for the moment we have to focus on the car, because I don’t give a damn if he’s sixth and I’m seventeenth.
Last season was an evidently tough time for you. What did you learn from the year 2018?
A lot of things, actually. Sometimes things can get difficult and complex indeed, because you go through very rough times as a professional, but you have to come back for the next race to try to work on those weaknesses. I surely know what went wrong in the first part of the season last year, and I’m doing my best to avoid it now.
Unfortunately, this season’s results are not being the expected ones either… How do you cope with such a situation today?
Yes, it’s frustrating… Last year, the beginning was also insanely complicated, as I’ve mentioned, so this year we seemed to be in a totally different place. However, in Australia we had those disastrous pit stops and then we couldn’t get the car to go fast again, which is so unnerving because you’re here to compete, to do your best, and I know we have a better car than the one we’re showing, but hopefully things will turn up for the better soon.
The sport has changed in some aspects since Liberty Media’s arrival, especially in its marketing and communication operations; do you think such an approach works well for the fans, the racers, the teams, and other professionals in it?
I think it’s all good now. Formula 1 needs to be more open to the outside people so they can understand that it’s not just a weekend hobby. Just like you love your job and the pressure that comes with it, that’s what the world of Formula 1 looks like too, and we have to show it to the people. I’ve been told that the sport was Americanized a bit, and everything has been slightly dramatic since the takeover, but I guess it’s all for making Formula 1 more popular globally. The sport is still quite closed today, and the paid TV is not ideal as you lose followers, so there’s still good work to do out there.
One of the ideas is to add more races to the calendar – would you enjoy such a change?
It’s getting tricky. When you go above 20 races, it starts to feel like a lot… I don’t know, I’m not part of that decision-making process, but I think we already have enough Grands Prix in a single year.
Would increasing the number of GPs play a part in your decision to continue racing in Formula 1 or leaving the sport?
No, I don’t think so. I love Formula 1, and I want to be here for the whole show, it’s just that those 21 races in 2019 seem really enough – I don’t think there’s another series out there in motorsport with that many events. Or maybe they do more races with fewer tests, I don’t know… Anyway, I will go with the flow.