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Haas: Grosjean’s Experience Won Him Job

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 29 2015
Frenchman Romain Grosjean brings experience with him to American Gene Haas' Formula One team. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)

Frenchman Romain Grosjean brings experience with him to American Gene Haas’ Formula One team. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Citing experience as the No. 1 requirement for the Haas F1 Team driver, owner Gene Haas announced Tuesday that Frenchman Romain Grosjean would pilot the organization’s cars in the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2016.

formula1logo“I like his style of being more reserved and just keeping your foot on the throttle and rolling in-and-out of the throttle and smoothly going through a turn as opposed to an aggressive driver,” Haas said. “I think aggressive drivers have to learn where the limits are; whereas, Grosjean has already tried a lot of those moves.

“He does really well on F1 starts; he holds his ground, he doesn’t give up anything. He’s usually able to pull ahead of whoever he’s with. Plus he scores points.”

Haas admitted he was under pressure to hire an American driver since his organization was the first American-led Formula One team in 30 years, but he felt a rookie driver with a rookie team “just wasn’t a good fit.”

The 29-year-old Grosjean has recorded 10 podium finishes in 78 Formula One races with his most recent being a third in August at the Belgian Grand Prix. He’s currently in his fifth Formula One season with Lotus F1 Team.

Grosjean’s first outing with the Haas F1 Team will be during the pre-season test March 1-4 at

Gene Haas thinks his new F1 driver can score points next year. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Gene Haas thinks his new F1 driver can score points next year. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. A second test at Barcelona is scheduled for March 15-18 before the April 3 season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“In addition to being an experienced Formula One driver, Romain is very technically minded,” said Guenther Steiner, the Haas F1 Team principal. “He gives strong, specific feedback as to how the car performs. As we develop our car in testing and throughout the season, his insight will be crucial.”

Haas believes Grosjean wants to solidify his career and he views these years as his best in Formula One.

“We think he’s aggressive. We think he’s smart. He’s got the right driving style,” Haas continued. “He’s got current experience. Those (all) fell in his favor.”

Grosjean said he liked the approach Haas was taking in building the new F1 team because it was different from those taken in the past.

“I think it’s (an) approach that can be quickly successful,” Grosjean said. “I like the partnership with Ferrari and the way things have been going. I like that it’s going slowly but nicely.”

Haas F1is acquiring its engines from Ferrari and chassis from Dallara. It has a race shop in the United Kingdom in addition to the Kannapolis facility.

“We’re using as much as we can from our partners and that’s the main difference between Haas F1 and the other teams,” Haas said.  

Haas said his team had committed to having one of Ferrari’s reserve drivers as his organization’s second driver.

“When we finalize that negotiation with Ferrari, that will be our second driver,” Haas said. “We would have a reserve driver (as well). Maybe we could share a reserve driver with another team so we don’t have to go through too much expense there.”

Grosjean won races and championships in ever division in which he competed as he advanced to Formula One. He transitioned quickly from karting to cars in 2003, winning all 10 races in the Swiss Formula Renault 1.6 championship to claim the series title. Another 10-win season in the French Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2005 resulted in a second title.

In 2006, Grosjean moved up to Formula Three and competed in the full Euro Series schedule. He also drove in two British Formula Three races that year, securing the pole, the victory and setting the fastest lap in both races. A second season in the Formula Three Euro Series in 2007 resulted in Grosjean claiming four poles and six victories en route to the championship. He graduated to GP2 in 2008 and maintained his title-winning form by earning four victories in 10 races to claim the inaugural GP2 Asia Series crown.

By 2008, Grosjean was in Formula One as a test driver for Renault. In August 2009, Renault named Grosjean to its race seat alongside two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso. The following year Grosjean competed in a variety of series. He won the Auto GP championship with four victories, seven podiums and three poles. He also earned two FIA GT1 World Championship victories and two GP2 podiums. He also competed in two 24-hour races at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, respectively.

Grosjean returned to GP2 in 2011, first winning the Asia Series championship in its final year of existence and then the GP2 title with a season-best five victories. He also returned to Renault as its Formula One test driver.

With the Renault team under new management and rebranded as Lotus F1 Team for 2012, Grosjean was named to the race seat alongside 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen. Grosjean’s first podium came in the season’s fourth race at Bahrain. Three races later in Montreal he finished second. A third podium was earned in the season’s 11th race in Hungary.

In 2013 Grosjean scored six podiums, highlighted by a second-place finish at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Despite a new engine formula last year that returned turbochargers to the sport for the first time since 1988, Grosjean regularly outpaced his teammate throughout the year and recorded eighth-place finishes in Spain and Monaco.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 29 2015
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