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BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

2020/11/29 15:10:00

In four full seasons of Formula One competition, Romain Grosjean has continued to showcase the speed and consistency that was a hallmark of his highly decorated junior career. Collecting championships and numerous race wins as he ascended Europe’s ultra-competitive open-wheel racing ladder, Grosjean’s talents have continued to impress with the Frenchman joining Haas F1 Team in 2016.

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2020 Bahrain & Sakhir Grand Prix – Preview

23 November 2020
The Turkish Grand Prix was a weekend unlike any another seen in Formula 1 in recent memory. Now you’ve had a bit of time to digest events from Friday through to Sunday – what’s your take on how events played out and the challenges, notably the sheer lack of grip, drivers faced from start to finish. Did you embrace the challenge, or did it detract from the potential of what might have been? “It was a challenge, but it was the same for everyone. It wasn’t something we were expecting from Turkey, but everyone did the best they could. I think I would have preferred the circuit with the normal tarmac – it would have just been more fun to drive. It shook up the order though, at least in qualifying.” The traditional grand prix layout at Bahrain International Circuit has seen you finish twice on the podium and record a memorable fifth place finish for Haas F1 Team in just its second ever Formula 1 race back in 2016. Tell us what you like about racing there – what suits your style? “I think in general Bahrain’s a really cool circuit, it’s very good for racing. It’s got quite an abrasive tarmac, so strategy normally plays a big part of it. It’s dominated by low-speed corners and traction at the rear. I guess if you’ve got a good car on traction, and you don’t destroy too much the rear tires, you’re normally pretty fast.” The Sakhir Grand Prix will utilize Bahrain’s shorter, faster 3.5km Outer Track layout. As it marks the first time Formula 1 cars will have raced on that configuration, what can we expect to see in terms of lap times and the layout lending itself to overtaking and hard-charging racing? “In all fairness I have no idea what to expect. Let’s wait and see how it turns out. Obviously, there are going to be some challenges, but let’s see if we can face them better than others.” We’ll be racing under the lights twice in Bahrain and again at the season finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of this triple-header stretch. When was the first time you raced at night and are you a fan of it? “I think the first time I raced at night was the Singapore Grand Prix. The biggest surprise for me was that the visibility was very good – it wasn’t a problem. Everyone’s looking forward to these races. Let’s go there and finish the best we can with Haas.”

2020 Turkish Grand Prix – Preview

9 November 2020
With just two and a half hours between your only practice session and the start of qualifying at Imola thanks to F1 trialing a two-day race format – how did you adapt to processing the data with your engineers in a shortened time window. Does experience come to the fore as a driver in those situations? “Yes, I think experience is important in those situations. You know quicker what you expect to have for the race, and I think we did a good job in that aspect – we had every tool prepared in the car. Obviously, working with the team for such a long time also helps in those circumstances.” At Imola you again expressed your love of driving an old school circuit in a current-spec Formula 1 car. What is it that delivers those elements of pleasure, what makes the difference to you behind the wheel at each circuit? Would those circuits feel the same in other race cars or is it the visceral speed of a Formula 1 car that is the difference maker? “I think they would feel the same in different cars. It’s the up and down, the elevation, the different types of kerbs, the scenery, the atmosphere. I guess though, elevation and camber, the different corners and kerbs – those are the keys.” You reached out with a message of support to George Russell following his crash under the safety car during last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Was it important to you to show empathy to a fellow driver in those circumstances? “I’ve had a good relationship with George. When the announcement was made that I wasn’t going to be with the team next season, he was the first and only one to send me a WhatsApp message. That really shows that he’s a great guy. I know how painful it is to crash under a safety car period – especially when it’s going to be your first point of the season. I believe it was the same for me at Baku in 2018. In the lower part of the field, you really need to work the tires a lot. I’ve said it many times, if I was doing Baku again, I’d probably do the same thing as I did three seasons ago. George didn’t do anything crazy, but he just lost the car. It was a tough day for him, but he’ll have plenty more (good days) to come.” You’ve raced at Intercity Istanbul Circuit before – taking a victory there in 2011 in the GP2 Series. What are your memories of the circuit and what can we expect from the return of the Turkish Grand Prix? “I think it’s going to be an outstanding circuit, another really good one. It’s very high speed, there’s ups and downs, different kerbs – again, everything you need to have. There’s some low speed at the end of the circuit for some good overtaking. I think it’s going to be a very good weekend.”

2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Preview

27 October 2020
Imola marks Formula 1’s first official two-day race weekend.  Does it increase your anticipation and excitement, or does it add pressure knowing there’s a solitary practice before qualifying? “I guess it’s not easy. There are a few tracks, like Barcelona, where you don’t really need the Friday as you know it by heart. But Imola – well I raced there a very long time ago, so I don’t really remember it that well. Saying that, the Nürburgring was kind of the same and things turned out well for us. I think it’s quite exciting. It brings some unpredictability into the race – that’s something Formula 1 has been generally lacking. Hopefully it will spice things up.” Formula 1 has visited several tracks either new to Formula 1 or perhaps not utilized by the series in a long time – such as Imola. Have you enjoyed the opportunity to run at some of these venues in Formula 1 this year? “Yes, very much. First, it was a very good job by Formula 1 managing to get so many races into the season, second, it was really cool to discover, or re-discover some tracks like Mugello, Nürburgring, Portimao, Imola, and I think Turkey’s going to be mega. To me they are tracks that should be on the calendar. I know we cannot go to 30 races a year, but I would love to see a change from year to year in terms of the tracks Formula 1 visits. It’s really cool to discover new places and see the different types of racing.” The flip side to visiting those venues in 2020 is that you’re missing out on driving some favoured F1 tracks normally found in the latter half of the calendar. Which circuit are you missing the most from the regular F1 schedule and why? “Suzuka, as it’s my favorite track. That’s the one I’m definitely missing. I’d include Singapore, it’s always quite an iconic one. Austin’s a pretty good place. There are many tracks I’m disappointed we didn’t get to. That’s why seeing a calendar that maybe one year is more European based, the other year more newer circuits, it could be quite cool. Then you get the best of both worlds.” Imola was a happy hunting ground for you in 2011 in the GP2 Asia Series – where you scored a pole position, two fastest race laps and a win in the double-header event. What are your memories of the circuit and your thoughts heading into the weekend? “It’s actually pretty fast. There were some bumps on track, I don’t know if it’s been resurfaced, but it was a bit bumpy. There are some cool old-style kerbs. Obviously, it’s a track with a lot of history – notably with Ayrton (Senna) from 1994. You can’t go there and not think about that. It’s generally a pretty cool track. I’m really looking forward to discovering it with a super-fast car.”

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix – Preview

20 October 2020
The Eifel Grand Prix, courtesy of the weather, was effectively a two-day race weekend. Did you enjoy the challenge of the shortened program and how does it impact your preparation for both qualifying and the race? “Yes, I thought it was actually quite fun – it was good preparation for Imola. In life, a mix of things is good, and I think those two-day weekends are quite exciting. But the three-day weekends are also quite good, so I think a mix of both could be a nice way forward in the future. Obviously, you get less information, mainly going into the race because you haven’t really had the chance to try all the tires – so you need to get creative going into the race. In qualifying, if you manage to get out of Q1 then you usually manage to find some good pace in Q2 because you just have a bit more running going on.” You took time to state on the radio in practice how enjoyable it was to drive the Nürburgring. You’re a fan of many of the old-school circuits so where else would you love to drive a modern Formula 1 car? “I’m really enthusiastic about those old circuits. It’s just the character of the circuits – the kerbs are different, the radius, the camber, the undulation. I think all those things together, it’s quite attractive in all the circuits I really like. Normally they’ve got a lot of elevation, a lot of camber, different types of kerbs. Magny Cours could be quite nice in Formula 1. It’s obviously very tricky to overtake, but it could be a very nice circuit. This year with our calendar, I think we’re racing at a lot of different circuits that are really good. I think we’re really covering most of the top circuits.” You scored your first points of the season at the Nürburgring with a ninth-place finish at the checkered. What was the key to keeping the VF-20 in the top 10 and just how hard did you have to work to keep tire temperatures up after the safety car period? “We decided to go for a different strategy from most of the field. The first stint was key for us – we kept the medium tires alive for 28 laps without losing too much pace. We did that very well. We pitted, changing from an initial two-stop plan, to basically a medium to hard tire race. Before the race we didn’t think we’d use the hard tires because they were far too hard for us. But actually, they worked really well, especially in free air at the beginning. Obviously, behind the safety car was always going to be a disadvantage, especially against the runners behind me on new tires, Hulkenberg and Gasly on softs and new softs. Because we could un-lap ourselves, I was just able to generate enough tire temperature – so it wasn’t too bad at the restart. I could keep the rest of the
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