Grosjean lifts the lid on 2018 helmet design

Date published: February 19 2018

Romain Grosjean has become the latest driver to reveal his new helmet design for the 2018 F1 season.

The Frenchman took to the Twitter with an animated clip to show off the predominantly blue livery, which features slashes of orange and white.

The design was created by Adrien Pavot for supplier Bell.

Grosjean calls on Haas to validate updates

Date published: February 7 2018

This year Romain Grosjean has urged Haas make sure their updates do the job before putting them on the car so as not to lose “three months” with things that don’t work.

Last season Haas managed eight top-ten finishes in the first half of the championship while in the second they scored just five times.

Part of that, Grosjean reckons, was due to introducing updates that didn’t do what they were supposed to.

“There are a few areas where we need to focus on and get better,” the Frenchman told Autosport.

“One is making sure that the updates when they are coming are working well and they have been validated before, so not losing three months of time to bring something that doesn’t bring what it was supposed to do.

“I am not going to go through everything because it is confidential but that is just an example.

“This is two years in a row where the trend is to go a bit down during the year. We started twice with a very, very good platform and we have been struggling with the tyres.

“We are not up there with tyre usage and understanding. Behind the scenes there are a lot of things we can coordinate better between the factory in Maranello, the one in Dallara and the one in England to make things run smoother and more efficient.”

K-Mag: ‘Grosjean a strong and unique driver’

Date published: February 1 2018

Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have been exchanging compliments ahead of the new season.

Toward the end of the 2017 campaign, Grosjean said that Magnussen was the “best team-mate” he has ever had and the two drivers will spend a second season together after the American outfit opted to trigger one-year extensions.

After learning of what Grosjean said about him, Magnussen was more than happy to heap praise on him in return.

“I appreciate the compliment,” Magnussen said via Auto Hebdo. “Romain is also a very strong driver.

“I would even say he is unique as I have never seen someone who can overcome the blows in the way that he can.”

Grosjean has had continuous struggles with the Haas car as it has been plagued by brake problems in recent years, but Magnussen has still be able to learn valuable lessons from him.

He added: “It’s amazing how he can put together the pieces of the puzzle which is frustrating at times but I learned a lot from him last year.”

Both Grosjean and Magnussen are out of contract at the end of the 2018 season, but there is an option once again to extend their deals by another year.

The key drivers under pressure in 2018

All Formula 1 drivers are under pressure to perform, but the spotlight will be that little bit brighter on these drivers in the 2018 season…

Who could be dropped?

Valtteri Bottas

The Finn got his big break at Mercedes last season and while he has been praised for how well he has settled into the team, his inability to take Lewis Hamilton out of his comfort zone and his well-documented confidence issues means he finds himself on the chopping block once again.

It is a familiar situation now for Bottas, who is being kept on his toes by working under the instability that comes with been given one-year contract extensions at a time.

It makes sense for Mercedes to keep their options open, but it is hardly a ringing endorsement of Bottas’ ability and it becomes difficult for him to shake off this feeling that he is nothing more than a stop-gap option for the Silver Arrows until someone better comes along.

Bottas has also put unnecessary pressure on himself by being openly critical of his own struggles over the course of the 2017 season. After finishing P5 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Finn claimed he was going through “the most difficult time of my career” and there is not much room for those honest concessions in one of the most cut-throat sports around.

However, there is some hope for the ex-Williams driver. The way he kept cool under immense pressure from Sebastian Vettel to clinch the first win of his career in Russia shows there is some mental toughness – but he needs to develop that killer instinct quickly if he is to extend his stay at Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen

There is a sense that 2018 could be the year that the ‘Ice Man’ finally melts. When he lines up on the grid at Albert Park for the season opener, it will be five years since the 38-year-old last climbed the top step of the podium. It is a drought that has gone on for far too long.

In 2017, Raikkonen finished on the podium just seven times in a Ferrari car that proved for the first time in years that it was capable of fighting the mighty Mercedes and perhaps more damning is the fact that the Finn finished just five points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the standings – a driver who retired from six races last year including three of his last four. No wonder Sebastian Vettel views him as his favourite team-mate ever.

Raikkonen’s overflowing stream of below-par performances in both qualifying and races led to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne calling him “a laggard” last season, and that criticism acted as key evidence that patience with Kimi is starting to wear a little thin.

The Finn, though, is adamant he still has the desire to win races and championships but, on current showing, even his most ardent fans will be struggling to construct a compelling argument in his defence.

Despite his shortcomings, Raikkonen remains an international treasure with his zero f***s given attitude. He’s been there, done that and given an indifferent look to the t-shirt before throwing it in the bin. A renaissance in 2018 would be warmly received as a grid without him is still not worth thinking about.

Brendon Hartley/Pierre Gasly

A testing year awaits for Toro Rosso as they begin their new relationship with those reliable folks at Honda, and trying to thrive in this high-pressure environment is the most inexperienced driver line-up on the 2018 grid.

Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly have just nine race starts between them after being drafted in by the Red Bull junior team late in the 2017 season, but they only need to look at the unfortunate case of Daniil Kvyat to know that Dr Helmut Marko has a shorter fuse than the lifespan of a Honda power unit.

Kvyat, ‘The Torpedo’, engaged in one too many battles in 2017 and became the equivalent of a child’s former favourite toy, discarded for something new and shiny. Even when he made a brief reappearance at the United States Grand Prix and secured a points finish, it still was not enough to keep him in the seat.

With such ruthless decision-making in action, Hartley and Gasly will be aware that the opportunity to race in Formula 1 can be taken away just as quickly as it was given to them.

They were unable to truly showcase their talents last season due to the unreliability and fears over the Renault engine and knowing Honda’s wretched time with McLaren, it would come as no surprise to see the two drivers having a similar situation on their hands in 2018.

Who needs to step up?

Daniel Ricciardo

Pressure is not a word you would usually associate with the man who has his pearly whites on constant display, but it is crunch time for the smiling assassin.

Well into the final year of his Red Bull contract and possibilities of joining either Mercedes or Ferrari in 2019, Ricciardo’s decision to delay resolving his future means there is a risk that his stock could fall.

At 28, Ricciardo is at the perfect stage of his career to be able to dictate his terms and land a big-money contract, yet the decision is one that could define his whole career. Will he become a World Champion or join the lengthy list of ‘nearly drivers’ who only had a short sip of success?

Whilst Red Bull have to prove to Ricciardo that they can deliver a car which is capable of producing titles again, Ricciardo needs to be convinced that team-mate Max Verstappen is not the only chosen one at Red Bull and, at the same time, produce the performances that keep Mercedes and Ferrari interested in securing his services.

Getting the better of the Dutchman in qualifying will certainly help with that, he was out-qualified 13-7 last season.

Lance Stroll

Well that escalated quickly. From racking up an expensive bill in car damages at pre-season testing in 2017 to effectively becoming team leader at Williams in the space of 12 months. There is a lot of pressure on the Canadian to perform this year after using his rookie season to find his feet.

Williams’ 2018 line-up conundrum may have rumbled on and on, but the end result is the fact that the Grove based team have lost a hugely experienced driver in Felipe Massa and replaced him with another driver armed with money bags in Sergey Sirotkin.

The Russian may well have the talent to go alongside the cash, but Stroll will initially be the one that Williams are banking on to bring in the points on a regular basis like Massa did. Question is: can he make the improvement?

The answer should be yes given that Stroll now has a full year under his belt and is not heading into the unknown as much, but, despite showing on the odd occasion that he is worthy of his place in Formula 1, there were still too many weekends where he was largely anonymous.

As a result, the question marks over him firmly remain. If Sirotkin is able to come straight into the team and get the better of Stroll with just limited experience in free practice sessions to draw upon, then those doubts are only going to grow.

Romain Grosjean

It is a case of now or never for Romain Grosjean in 2018. He has guided Haas through their embryonic years in Formula 1 and will spend a third campaign with the American outfit whilst trying to catch the attention of those above. The problem he has is getting anyone else to take notice.

He still retains hope of making a “dream” move to Ferrari – using Bottas’ sudden switch to Mercedes as inspiration – and, just in case the Scuderia did not get the message, has been learning Italian, too.

It is not just Ferrari that is on Grosjean’s mind, as he is also open to rejoining Renault at a time where they will be hoping to change the top three into a big four. Grosjean clearly still has ambitions he wants to fulfill, but you will struggle to find many others believing in him unless he has a stellar season.

Grosjean has been openly criticised by his own team for his excessive moaning, whilst Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed last season that the Frenchman was “lucky” to still be in Formula 1. The negative perception of him has to change.

Mark Scott

Grosjean has no thoughts of retiring

Date published: January 25 2018

Romain Grosjean reckons he could continue racing in Formula 1 until he is “maybe 40, or just before 40.”

This year’s championship will mark the Frenchman’s seventh season in Formula 1.

Given a choice, Grosjean would like to add another “eight” or “nine” season to that.

“I still have a long way to go to the end,” he told Autosport.

“I started when I was 27 really in Formula 1, so I feel like I can go a long way, maybe 40, or just before 40.

“I still believe I’ve got eight, nine seasons ahead, so I’m pretty good.”

The 31-year-old is eyeing a move up the grid come 2019 and says he could yet return to his former team Renault.

For now, though, he is happy with Haas.

“It would be nice, especially as Renault is going up with better and better cars,” he said.

“I spent a lot of years with them, so it’s still a good relationship.

“I don’t know what the future is like. I like it here, I’d love to win races as well. It’s OK.

“But again, being here and developing the team and getting it to a successful point, a Force India type thing, would be amazing.”

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Grosjean predicts midfield shake-up for 2018

Date published: December 29 2017

Romain Grosjean thinks that a “super strong” McLaren and a fast-developing Renault both have the ability to ruffle a few feathers in the 2018 season.

There has been an air of predictability in recent years with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull way out in front and Force India finishing best of the rest in the Constructors’ Championship.

However, Grosjean feels the midfield battle in particular could be ultra-competitive next campaign after McLaren’s switch in engine supplier to Renault.

“McLaren is going to be super strong next year and they have huge resources, probably the biggest factory in Formula 1,” said Grosjean.

“The Renault engine is a decent engine, they’ve had reliability issues but power-wise they’re up there, Renault is a on a high, they’ve been developing pretty well and are in front of us already.

“The question is Force India, Williams, ourselves and Toro Rosso with their new power unit.”

The Frenchman is unsure where Haas will come into the midfield equation, but wants the team to concentrate on themselves and not get lost in what other teams are doing.

“Some teams are going to maybe have a less powerful power unit, so one goes up one goes down,” he added.

“I think the best [approach] is to do our own work; we know where to improve, there’s a few areas where we really need to focus on to get better.

“[We need to be] making sure the updates – when they’re coming – are working and they have been well validated before.

“[That would mean] we’re not losing three months of time to bring something that actually doesn’t bring what it’s supposed to do, so that’s an area, just an example.”

Grosjean identifies Haas’ weaknesses

Date published: December 16 2017

Romain Grosjean believes Haas need to up their development game and their tyre usage next year if they want to take another step forward.

The American squad enjoyed a successful debut campaign last year as they finished eighth in the standings and they repeated that result this season.

However, on both occasions they started the year well but their form tailed off as their rivals introduced upgrades.

Grosjean, who was responsible for the team’s 29 points this season, says there is plenty of room for improvement.

When asked about the area that Haas needs to focus on next year, he is quoted as saying by GPUpdate.net: “I think development. We’ve seen two years in a row where the trend is to go a bit down in the year.

“We started twice with a very good platform and we’ve been struggling.

“[With the] tyres… [we are] still not up there with tyre usage and understanding, so they’re the two main areas.

“Behind the scenes there a few things we can co-ordinate better between the factories.

“[There’s Ferrari] in Maranello, the one in Dallara, the one in England, and getting things to run smoother and more efficient [will help].”

Despite a poor second half of the season, the Frenchman still feels they have “done very well”.

“I think it’s a good year, it’s only our second season in Formula 1, and there’s been a big change of regulation,” he said.

“It’s always the toughest one, the second one, so I think we’ve done very well, going into the last race potentially capable of finishing sixth in the championship.

“When you know three teams are untouchable it’s pretty good, that’s super positive.

“There’s a lot of work we need to do in the future, a lot of areas [where] we can improve, but I think the model is working pretty well.

“Of course, it’s always going to be harder to get up to the next speed, but that’s clearly the target for the future.”