For want of a better analogy, F1 press conferences can often feel like one of the duller Grand Prix races that sometimes pops up during a season - procession-like and predictable, but still worth tuning in for just for that one spicy moment. Today’s media gathering for the Monaco Grand Prix was a little like that.
The line-up featured Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. And while there was an appetite to hear Vettel’s view on Ferrari’s comeback strategy, and who his future partner in red might be, most people wanted to hear what Romain Grosjean had to say about his poor start to the season.
Grosjean on the spot
The Frenchman’s response when questioned about the matter was unsurprisingly acerbic: “I think you’re making a big mountain out of a molehill.” However, it was a fair question to ask a driver who has failed to pick up a point and crashed out of the last two races. Once, while unchallenged in a safety car in Baku and the other, by inexplicably directing his car across oncoming traffic after getting out of shape in Spain.
It is the first time in his career that Grosjean has failed to bag a single point in the first five races of the campaign. A statistic that leaves him empty-handed at the bottom of the standings alongside the much-maligned Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin.
He elaborated on his initial response by stating: "The last few races didn’t go quite to plan - but sometimes you go through tough times… I don’t have any points on the board but I’m not too worried."
Fourth place the target for Haas
The Hass driver’s predicament has been highlighted because the car looks good. Teammate Kevin Magnussen has landed three top ten finishes this season and sits ninth in the championship on 19 points. In reality, the Haas team should have an eye on fourth spot in the Constructors’ Championship but they are currently sitting in sixth place. If Grosjean had matched his teammates tally, they would be just three points adrift of fourth-ranked Renault.
Grosjean is certain he has been on the wrong end of some bad luck: “In Barcelona it was unfortunate that I lost the rear end to avoid contact with my team mate (Magnussen) - and that was it.” However, he acknowledged that the car was not to blame: “The performance is there, the car is doing great and the team is doing an amazing job.”
Strong in qualifying
His qualifying record of three top-ten finishes shows that the pace is there. However, he needs to get his head together on race day. The hope is that the added pressure does not eat into his confidence but so far that’s hasn’t been the case.
There has been positive talk from behind the scenes in Haas and the car is thought to be developing well. If they can capitalise on their mid-season upgrades, they could quickly get back in the hunt for fourth place but both drivers will need to contribute regularly.
Grosjean rounded off his response on an upbeat note stating: I think it’s getting better and better. In qualifying, often we have been in front of the midfield. It’s super tight. It’s getting there. We are working well. It should be quite nice here and hopefully the next update coming it will be quite competitive.”
The 32-year-old driver is wise enough to bounce back but his career record at Monaco is not great with just two points finishes (eighth in 2014 and 2017) to his name.
Can Romain Grosjean turn his season around? Or should Haas look for a replacement? Share your views below!