German Grand Prix – Haas’ Romain Grosjean says the laptimes his car was capable of in Friday practice were ‘exciting’, after downgrading his car to an earlier spec.
The Haas team have been struggling to figure out their VF19 over recent races, after a relatively strong start to the season. The upgrades the team have brought to the car have seemed to upset the car’s balance, as well as its ability to use the tyres in race trim while still maintaining decent single lap pace.
In an effort to figure out where the team have gone wrong, they have opted to running their two cars in two different specifications recently. Romain Grosjean used the specification of car used at the season opening Australian Grand Prix for the British GP weekend but, after a Lap 1 collision with teammate Kevin Magnussen, couldn’t gather any relevant data in race trim.
As a result, the team are carrying out the same experiment this weekend. While Magnussen is kitted out with the latest spec upgraded VF19, Grosjean’s car is as it was in Melbourne back in March.
It’s going pretty well so far, too. Grosjean finished the day in P6, 0.7 seconds behind the pace set by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and was the fastest car behind the expected top three Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bulls – Grosjean finishing ahead of Pierre Gasly, who crashed his car towards the end of FP2.
“It’s been a good day.” enthused Grosjean afterwards. “I’m generally happy with the car – and have been since the first lap this morning.”
Despite the downgrade of several months on his car, his laptimes meant that the French driver was visibly excited by the prospect of returning to the upper midfield: “It was quite exciting to see the lap time in the afternoon being so close to the mix with Bottas and Verstappen.”
“Maybe when qualifying time comes it could be a different story, but so far, I’m very happy.” said Grosjean.
“We’re evaluating a lot of things here. The long runs, I think we can work on that a little bit, we tried different things but didn’t quite get the right direction. I’ve got confidence that we can sort that out for the rest of the weekend. The feeling in the car though has been really good. It looks like the weather might be quite different for the rest of the weekend, it’ll play a part. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday.”
Grosjeans’ teammate Kevin Magnussen, on the other hand, was less pleased. Having broken down on circuit and bringing out the red flags in FP1 with a minor sensor issue, he finished P18 on the timing sheets with the updated car, and said he couldn’t find any grip on the Hockenheim circuit: “It’s been a little bit of a confusing day. We’ll see what we can learn in the data tonight, and then make a decision about what we’re going to do for tomorrow. We didn’t have grip today, overall it just wasn’t performing well. I don’t want to make any conclusions yet, but the upgrades didn’t work immediately.”
“I can’t go back to Romain’s (Grosjean) car this weekend, which is a little bit of a bummer, but we also need to learn, and that’s the work I’m doing – we’re continuing the development. I haven’t seen the forecast but I’m hoping for some crazy weather.”