British Grand Prix – Romain Grosjean says he could feel positive changes with his Haas after the team reverted him to an old spec for this weekend.
Haas have taken the unusual step of running their two cars in completely different configurations this weekend. While Kevin Magnussen is driving with all the updates the team have introduced over the course of the season so far, Romain Grosjean has reverted to the specification used in Melbourne with the intention of giving the team two completely different data points to compare where they have gone wrong since.
The team have struggled to convert strong single lap qualifying pace into anything remotely competitive on Sundays, with Grosjean comparing his car in Austria akin to ‘driving in the rain all the time’.
Grosjean said he could immediately feel positive changes on Friday, having been fitted out with all the old parts:
“We’re trying to evaluate and understand everything we’ve done during the season so far. The feeling on the car is good, the way it was at the start of the season which I was really happy with but obviously, there’s performance missing as it’s an old package. But it’s a positive feeling, which is good, but there are limitations which we knew we’d have. Some are with the wind, which was pretty strong today, and we’re paying a little bit of a price there.”
“For the team, it’s very interesting to look at the data and try to understand the feeling of the car from what me and Kevin say.”
“The feeling is very good in the car, much better than it has been recently, which is great. I think the performance is not quite what we might expect, especially with the wind which is a big factor for our package. But the feeling is very good and we need to translate the feeling into the new package and then into performance.”
Explaining that Haas had rectified their wind sensitivity with their Barcelona upgrades, he is now experiencing that same sensitivity as a result of swapping back to the old spec: “The package we brought to Barcelona really improved our sensitivity to the wind, where we had been quite weak and this old package, I felt the same thing I felt in Bahrain and China when it was quite windy. The feeling when there’s no wind, it’s really really good. Better than the new package, but the performance is a bit down.”
Practice spins and struggles
Grosjean’s Friday running at Silverstone was scruffy. Heading out early in FP1, he lost the rear of his Haas exiting the pitlane and hit the barrier on the inside. This knocked his front wing off and resulted in Virtual Safety Car conditions as he returned back to the pits littering debris onto the track. He was able to rejoin, spinning off again almost immediately at Turn 6, but finished P19 at the end of the session: “[It was] Cold tyres, and then I switched off the pit limiter. I was surprised by the lack of grip, the car just went around.”
“New tarmac always brings some different grip. It was better in the afternoon, but Turn 6 was a bit tricky. On my first lap out, the grip was outstanding through Turns 3 & 4 and I was expecting the same at Turn 6 but it wasn’t quite there. I spun and when I came back in, we changed the differential a little and it was much better then.”
A hydraulic issue hampered his afternoon track time, but Grosjean eventually managed to get in some laps towards the end of the afternoon and finished P18 with a best time of 1:28.794 at the chequered flag. Having had a chance to evaluate the various Pirelli compounds, he said they haven’t quite figured out which are the optimum tyres for the race just yet: “The pace today was much better on the long run than the short run, which is positive. There’s a lot of tyre wear on the front left, same as everyone else. The feeling was quite good but there was a little bit too much understeer.”
“The tyres are gone after only a few laps. There’s a lot of energy through them here, the Hard seems to be very slow, but the Soft and Medium seem to wear out very quickly.