Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Suzuka, 2015

Grosjean joins new team Haas for 2016

2016 F1 season

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Romain Grosjean will join Haas for the American team’s first season of F1 in 2016.

“We were looking for an experienced driver and Romain was one of several candidates,” said team founder Gene Haas. “He’s been in Formula One for many years, he’s been an excellent driver for team Lotus.”

“I reviewed a lot of video of his driving styles. One thing that was very impressive is the fact that he’s scored points almost every season and that’s really our primary goal here is to be able to score points. So I think as a piece of the puzzle he’s going to have a lot of work to do, he’s going to be our lead driver, we’re going to depend heavily on him to help us with our strategies with the car, with the race tracks and just the learning of the whole operations of an F1 team.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015
Haas ‘watched video of Grosjean’s driving style’
“I discovered the project a few years ago through the media and got to know a little bit more about what Gene and Gunther [Steiner] were doing and how it was nicely building up. And I like the fact that it’s a different approach to what a normal, new F1 team would do. I think it’s an approach that can be pretty quickly successful and if we’re racing in Formula One it’s not to be last on the grid it’s to try to always do our best as a team, as a driver, and what we like is to try to drink the champagne on the podium.”

“So I like the idea with the partnership with Ferrari, I like the way everything has been going, I like the fact it’s going slowly but nicely and as I said in the media recently I’m very happy that I made that decision.”

Grosjean will leave Lotus, who he has driven for since 2012. “I enjoyed my time at Enstone,” he said. “Ten years after from my first day I’ve achieved 80 Grands Prix, 10 podiums and maybe there’s more to come before the end of the season.”

Lotus’s future is in doubt as it waits to discover whether Renault will retake control of the team for next year. In the meantime the team has struggled with a shortage of funds.

“We’ve been the strongest group of people and it’s going to be very hard to say goodbye,” Grosjean added. “My dream would be to become world champion with Enstone so maybe one day that can still happen.”

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Keith Collantine
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76 comments on “Grosjean joins new team Haas for 2016”

  1. Costly decision by Haas.

    1. why? its keeping him active until his ferrari seat opens up plus i hope JEV comes back to pilot a renault

    2. Still better than signing Gutierrez. That will be the costly decision since Gut has zero experience developing a F1 car and his race craft is dubious at best.

      I like the RoGro signing, it’s just one more rung in Haas’s ladder of intelligent decisions building his F1 team.

      1. So will the Total sponsorship also be going to Haas? I can’t imagine how that will work out if Grosjean eventually makes it to Ferrari – it would have to be terminated I guess.

        It will be nice to see Grosjean and Gutierrez in the same team. Comparisons will begin right from the first practice session, unless there are serious car issues that steal the spotlight.

      2. Good job Haas yes,

        Probably the best option for RoGro aswell.

  2. Well, given Lotus’ financial position you can hardly blame him for looking to move for 2016.

    Staying loyal to Lotus was probably the sensible decision on paper, but with administration a possibility for the team if the Renault deal didn’t (doesn’t) go through makes this the most logical choice for him. I’m now really hoping that the Haas turns out to be a handy car next season and he doesn’t go the way of Timo Glock.

    1. @geemac – Without knowing if this deal is part of a longer-term strategy to get a Ferrari seat, it seems like he’s playing it too safe to me.

      Romain looks to be a really quick driver but this is a huge backwards. It’s possible that with Renault entering, they could have a car capable of competing at the top end of the field within a year or two whereas Haas will do well to beat Manor in the first couple of seasons.

      I appreciate he wouldn’t have known what was going to happen with the Renault deal but it’s these decisions that can often define your career. Personally, I would always go for the option that give the potential of the highest reward even if it’s more risky. Staying with Lotus/Renault means that at worst, he’ll be out of F1 next year but at best, he could potentially be looking at podium finishes if Renault get it right. With Haas, the worst case scenario is that he’ll have a rubbish season at the back of the field and the best case is… well perhaps he might finish ahead of Manor….

      I hope he does well but I fear this is an awful decision.

  3. Smart play for the 2017 Ferrari seat…

  4. Costly decision for everyone involved. This can turn out to a Glock style move from Grosjean part, and he can be locked in Haas until his career ends.

    Besides that, if Red Bull and STR walk away from F1, there would be some really good drivers available. I imagine Ferrari will prefer a Verstappen over him any day.

    I wonder who will drive for Renault next year, maybe Kvyat and Maldonado.

    1. This should be a reply to @huhhii.

    2. Where do people get the idea that Ferrari would sign MV now I don’t know…. Yeah, that’s reaaaly something they would do.

      1. Who is MV? Verstappen? Definitely not, and he’s still a Red Bull driver remember. Until it’s clear that Red Bull is on a downward slope you’d be nuts to leave them.

      2. Yes, they would……Ferrari allready have Verstappen well within their radar

      3. Why not? Because he’s a Red Bull driver? Like Vettel?

        Grosjean does seem a more logical bet though – he’d make a much better number 2 to Vettel than Verstappen would.

        1. He’s a Red Bull driver under contract; Vettel’s contract expired (or he used a get-out clause).

    3. Maldanado has a contract already. I have a feeling they may promote Palmer for the other seat.

  5. hang on, if lotus is set to become a works renault team next year, isn’t this a shocking move by grosjean?
    renault would have wanted to keep the french driver backed by a french company (total). not to mention he is fast and experienced.

    1. Yes, it is, but I think Grosjean had to make the move when Lotus’ future was very mcuh doubtful. I think he would not have done it, had he known that Renault was buying Lotus back. Maybe he was let go from Lotus, or even bought out by Haas? It’s hard to know for sure why he made that move…
      I am glad he is still in F1, but I would have like to see him in a works renault!

      1. Maybe Renault needed the room and pastors cash to get Alonso in? It was only Romains to go to once Button decided to stay at Rons. At least Romain is one step closer to Ferrari now 😃

    2. @sato113 Conflict of interest. Renault are synonymous with Elf, not sure if Total and Elf would be happy with the arrangement.

      1. Gastonmazzacane
        30th September 2015, 7:49

        Total is merged with Elf.

        1. @Gastonmazzacane

          I did not know that. That does of course change things completely.

      2. @psynrg We’ve seen RBR-Renault sponsored by total, Enstone-Renault sponsored by Total, so…….

        1. @davidnotcoulthard Indeed, I guess I’ve been on the receiving end of Elf-washing by Renault for too long (having owned many different Renault’s over the years, and currently.)

          I had no idea Elf & Total were merged either.

  6. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
    29th September 2015, 16:15

    Good development for Haas; Grosjean has certainly proven to be a very capable F1 racer.

    How good a decision this is for Grosjean we will only find out next year.

    1. @coldfly
      Next season will probably be too soon to judge. Building a whole new team is a difficult task, and one that generally doesn’t provide an instant return.
      Red Bull took several years to turn the old Jaguar team into a competitive outfit, and that was with an established team factory, an almost unlimited budget and one of the best designers in the sport.
      BAR found out the hard way how long you have to work to build a winning team.
      I think Romain is hoping that some good work with a team that’s got close connections with Ferrari will give him a better chance of taking Kimi’s seat. I know a lot of people think Max will be getting that seat, but I’d be surprised to see Ferrari hiring someone so young and think they’d rather wait a few more years before giving him the opportunity to drive for them (if they ever do).
      Romain is in a difficult position, his own team won’t be improving any time soon, even if Renault buy them, and there are no seats available at any of the big teams. So it was either keep plodding on in the midfield, or go help a new team develop with a small chance of impressing the engine suppliers if he does well. Personally I hope he does well for HAAS and gets his chance at Ferrari, I’d like to see what he could do in a top team.

      1. 100% Agree. It would be great to see RoGro in a werks car.

  7. I said it on a recent COTD. No one is guarranteed a place at Ferrari for 2017, which is the move Grosjean is aiming for. There’s plenty of competition for that seat, specially after the question marks surrounding the future of Red Bull.

    What if Verstappen comes available? and more worryingly, what if Haas is totally outpaced during the year? who’s going to judge Grosjean’s performance? it’s very difficult to shine on slow machinery.

    1. @fer-no65 Whatever the outcome, this is a move Grosjean had to make. Lotus has been playing with him far too long, he missed lots of fridays and still is far ahead of Maldonado. He doesn’t have the status of leader at Lotus and he should clearly have as he is the one bringing the points home. There is no other team he could have gone this year anyway. That’s probably a gamble but he had to try it, we’ll see how that goes.

      Lots of people are lurking that 2017 Ferrari seat because nobody sees Kimi continuing there. Everyone was surprised to see him extend his contract this year as well and that could happen next year as well (if Kimi wants to continue in F1) because Ferrari is clearly in their favorite position right now with a lead driver and a very capable second driver which could win given the chance. It has always been Ferrari line up policy. In addition Kimi is very popular and great for their marketing. Not even sure Ferrari will have seat for 2017.

      Even if there is one, Grosjean chances are as high as Verstappen which is very highly rated … until we look at the first comparison point : his team mate. Verstappen has been impressive by his panache, but he is not crushing Sainz either. And I give a lot of credit to his father (and media) for praising him and marketing him the right way so that everyone is looking at his great moments and ignoring the rookie mistakes he still makes from time to time.

    2. Who’s going to judge Grosjean’s performance?

      @fer-no65 The other seat will go to either JEV or Gutierrez, right? If so, Ferrari can judge Grosjean even if the car turns out to be HRT levels of awful (which I doubt, I expect them to be at the level of performance McLaren is displaying currently) as they have all the data on their reserve drivers.

      1. @guilherme not entirely convinced. Time will tell. I fear he might end up going round small teams or moving to another series.

        It’d be a real shame, he deserves a seat in a top team.

  8. This poor guy is going to be the next Heidfeld. 6 more seasons of solid driving with no wins and then retirement.

  9. As an American F1 fan I love this. Haas gets a proven driver who is hungry to be considered as good as the Hamiltons and Vettels of the world and maybe has the ability to show he is. For Grosjean, if he can do well, the possibility of a promotion to Ferrari exists. Is this a risky move for him? Sure, but I think anything else he does is at least as risky.

  10. I can’t help but think Romain may be wishing he had held out on a decision to join Haas now Renault have shown their intent..

    French team + French driver..
    Tres bien.

    1. +French engine.
      Pas bien.

    2. I can’t help but think how relieved Grosjean must be leaving a team that looks to be set to be purchased by Renault. Leaving a team with Renault power for Ferrari power must be a relief for him.
      With the Ferrari support, there is the potential for this team to be a mid field contender out of the box. But we’ll see.

      1. I can’t help but think this is a good point..

      2. The powers that be aren’t going to allow the engine disparity to continue forever. Especially with Renault buying back in to F1 (and presumably putting more money into engine development), they could close the gap by 2017/18.

      3. Remember how much Grosjean criticised the Renault engine last year. Apparently his relationship with Renault had broken down as well. So whether it was Renault or Lotus, his mind was probably made up.

  11. Interesting that there is no announcement of their second driver, but it’s clear (if what Haas says is true), that it will be someone much less experienced. Haas said that Grosjean will be their leader/lead driver, so that suggests a Rookie maybe, or something with only a year or two’s experience (So probably Guttierez, although wouldn’t they have announced him already?). Could they be waiting for a possible Red Bull drop out?

    1. You bring up a good point. Could they want to swoop in on Ricciardo if he is a Red Bull refugee? A Grosjean/Ricciardo pairing would be immensely strong. The marketing opportunities with Daniel in particular are huge.

      1. I can’t imagine that’s the case, for the simple reason that Ricciardo would be the defacto lead driver of any team he joins now (unless it has Hamilton or Alonso in it). By announcing Grosjean as lead driver, they’ve made it pretty clear the #2 driver is going to be inexperienced.

        Verstappen or Sainz however, they might very well snap up if either becomes available. Particularly Sainz; he fits the profile of a driver dissatisfied with his team, and he’s very quick.

        1. Due to banking and sponsorship of Gutierrez, if they will sign GUT is pretty clear they will made the announcement in a better timing at Mexico or USA (Austin).

  12. Good press conference. Gene Haas looks comfortable, made a point of saying that he’s taken his time to succeed. Interesting to note that he said they’d be starting on their 2017 car before the end of this year. Sounds as though he got his ducks in a row.

    1. I was shocked that their 2017 car is going to be started before the year is out. Red Bull are behind in their 2016 car for comparison. It’s good to see they’ve done this whole process properly.

      1. @ambroserpm Yeah…Haas knows what PU will be in the back for 2017, RBR knows nothing right now.

  13. didnt see this one comming!!!! I would only understand it if it has something to do with the financial situation of lotus. I dont think Haas will be more than a Lotus Racing kind of thing: two or three years running at the back and then out.
    we will see…

  14. Very good move by Haas, Grosjean is probably the best driver available on the market in my opinion. I think it’s a good change for Grosjean as well, I imagine that there’s a Ferrari option for 2017. The alternative was to stay at Renault, but that would be a gamble at the moment, because there are no guarantees. Sure, Haas is a gamble as well, but it could pay out massively for his career.

    And it’s also good to see some changes in the driver’s line up! It looked like no one wanted to change teams.

  15. He is thinking Ferrari.
    So good move from both.

  16. I wonder if Grosjean saw the possibility of Renault coming back, remembered this, and made for the nearest available exit.

    1. Or maybe he knows that the 2016 Lotus/Renault car development is going badly.
      I doubt they’ve had time to develop because they are saving the team- let alone the money wouldn’t be there to do so. I can see the Enstone car being off the pace next year due to a lack of development. On the other hand the Haas development seems on or ahead of schedule.

    2. I’d be going through that same exit if it meant a Ferrari engine.

    3. Amazing, Grosjean is ranting about a partner, which is Renault, and nobody calls him a whiner or that he should leave or how unprofessional he is…

      1. @skylien:
        Well, there’s a big difference between “you lose five tenths every single straight line because the thing cuts. Honestly it’s hard for all of us.” and “GP2 engine! It’s embarassing”. Grosjean was shouting about a specific error which had a major impact, Alonso was simply saying the engine in itself is awful from the top down.

  17. One thing that was very impressive is the fact that he’s scored points almost every season and that’s really our primary goal here is to be able to score points.

    I’m receiving the “I have positively no idea what I’m talking about” kind of vibe from this statement.

    Yeah, Grosjean is pretty damn good, and maybe he’s found the backdoor to a Ferrari seat in 2016.
    Nevertheless, the reason that Haas gave is laughable.

    1. Considering the season Lotus had last year, not really.

    2. I thought the exact same thing when I read this sentence. Hooo boy, he’s scored points NEARLY every season. LOL! I’m sure Haas has hired a good bunch of people who’ve done a lot of research into the drivers, but whoever writes his words for him screwed that one up a little bit :)

    3. What I took from this is that GRO always scores, no matter what machinery he’s got – good or bad, and that’s important for a starting team.

      1. Well he doesnt do that.

  18. It is a new beginning, there are a lot of happy faces and encouraging voices. Still, I believe that Grosjean has had to make a tough decision.

    If he has chosen Haas F1 over Renault, then what does it say about Renault? It is unlikely that they will not buy/save Lotus after all but right now they have debts, Maldonado, bad engines and some future plans. The plans were obviously not good enough to make Grosjean stay.

    As for Haas F1, the team is unlikely to build a race-winning car. So Ferrari must be Grosjean’s true aim. I doubt if that seat is guaranteed though. Ferrari usually do not make such decisions more than a year in advance and they like to keep their options open. Even if Grosjean joins Ferrari in 2017, he will most likely find a very happy Vettel there and will definitely not want to be a number-two driver at the team.

    For sure, it is possible to shine in a poor car, grow together with a new team and even beat Vettel at Ferrari. But the road ahead is long and there are some mountains to climb. Grosjean has made a difficult choice and is now facing an unclear future. I wish him all the best.

    1. @girts – “it is possible to shine in a poor car” and I believe Grosjean is one of the drivers who can do this.
      If he has a dog of a car and does poorly, we all just say “we told you so” and no-one is surprised. But if he is pushing into the middle of the pack and scoring a few points here and there, he’ll be a hero in the USA where some great racing series await retired F1 stars.
      As @nemo87 and @neiljames and others have cleverly pointed out, what we do know is that the current Renault engine is only so-so and Lotus is in financial trouble. As you note, Grosjean will have seen some of the Lotus plans for the future. We also know that, so far, Haas seem to be doing things right.
      He’s made a good decision.

  19. Hass is a very intelligent guy and romain has made a good choice cause it’s good to have a PU that is strong at the beginning of the year than use the stupid token system to upgrade it and hope it works like Renault and Honda this year. With the PU in place hass can concentrate his resources on upgrading his chassis and the aero package, and with no restrictictions on development on these areas during the year he can bring a new package to every race and see a steady progress this has been proven by the lotus team this year. Just compare with the performance of lotus to last years car. With new merc PU they just worked on the chassis and on the aero and with so much of financial difficulties they still were hugely impressive this year.

  20. I really like Grosjean, I think some people hold on to this crash prone reputation; but he was more of a crash magnet managing to get collected by other people. Well over half of the accidents he was involved in were not his fault.
    I do think he had a spatial awareness problem and he’s overcome that now.

    I hope this isn’t his path out of F1, similar to Glock as other people have mentioned, hopefully this will open the door to Ferrari for him. If the rumours I’m hearing from Enstone are true, then with Maldonado in for 2016, RG had to go to make way for Alonso. Can’t say I’m convinced yet, but time will tell.

    1. @johnnik I guess Spa 2012 does a terribly good job of being unforgettable….

  21. It’s hard to imagine the Renault project bearing fruit for at least a few years. It’s understandable that Romain would rather take the chance on Haas if it could put him in place for a Ferrari seat. Having said that, Ferrari will have no shortage of options for next year. I worry that being in a backmarker team will put him under the radar while other candidates may have the chance to draw attention near the front. It’s safe to assume that Bottas would be at Ferrari next year if Williams didn’t put his price so high, so I’d guess he’s still on their shopping list.

  22. I really hope that this will pay out for Grosjean in the long run. Having the Ferrari engines behind sounds beneficial, but if we look back what Caterham could achieved with the world champion Renault engines after leaving Cosworth behind, and Marussia after swapping from Cosworth to Ferrari (okay, it meant 2 vital points for them, but it was more like luck than the obvious aftermath of having a Ferrari engine in the back), I’m not sure how much of an advantage this would mean. As a second driver, I could imagine a couple of guys. Is there maybe a chance, that as an American team, Haas is waiting for Rossi to complete his 5 races, and if they like what they saw, then…?

    1. @andrewt the 2014 Ferrari engine was rubbish though – they’d probably be ahead of McLaren with the 2015 unit.

  23. All the comments made in a way like Renault’s PU is done for good. Nothing stands still in F1 and Renault Sport is not an exception either. We’ve seen in Monaco, Hungaroring and Singapore that driveability is not a problem. Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with the PU. However, shortage of peek power is the biggest problem. When they solve that, and they will, it will be the best PU in the field. So, we’ll see. Regarding Enstone, we’re all aware they are going trough a testing time, emotionally very draining. I admire every single person working there, not to mention double points finish in Suzuka. As a consequence of that to see Romain leaving is not completely unexpected although I would be much happier if he stayed. I wish him all the best.

  24. Why is everybody so sure Ferrari would want Verstappen if Red Bull folds? Please take a look at all their signings since 1980. Experienced and proven drivers after each other often already champion or at least GP winner, not one single raw talent whilst they were always there and surely Ferrari could have signed them had they wanted.

    If both Red Bull teams are gone and all four come on the market they will pick none of the four to replace Kimi. No interest in Kvyat, Ricciardo refused because he might unsettle their numero uno, Verstappen and Sainz JR. for above reasons. I rather see them lure out Rosberg from Mercedes.

    Do note that if Alonso and Button (and Kimi) leave at the end of this season or 2016 we only have five GP winners left on the grid (Vettel/Hamilton/Rosberg/Ricciardo/Maldonado). So what I’m basically saying is Kimi will be retained for quite a few more seasons if his results are ‘okay’.

  25. Gene Haas is a very smart man. I would like to believe that the plan Haas F1 has put together, using as many Ferrari 2016 parts as Ferrari are able to sell, will yield a far more developed car then a typical freshman team could field.

    Haas is getting:

    Power units and gearboxes
    Ferrari is giving them all the locations of suspension mounting points on the chassis.
    Front and rear hubs and brakes and steering rack (this mean the Haas 2016 car will have Ferrari 2016 suspension geometry but Haas has to make their own upper and lower control arms, pull-rods and steering links. This put Haas at a huge advantage!)

    Haas is making:

    All wetted surfaces (all exterior covers and aero surfaces…and they are using Ferrari’s wind tunnel)
    The chassis monocoque (with Ferrari 2016 engine and suspension hard points)

    I guarantee you that Ferrari will be quietly sharing info and using Haas F1 to validate Scuderia design ideas and both will benefit. Just like RBR to TR are not supposed to but everyone knows they do.

  26. What if Haas are super competitive, fighting with the Ferarris, Williams and Redbull? Grosjean can hold his own in that scenario. What about Rossi? did he pass his audition?

  27. Its already started. Girosjean to replace Tony Steward in nascar after tony retires next year! ;) I joke but i had to say it. He even said it would be cool to give one a try

  28. I really hope he took advice from Vettel and/or Hamilton and not Alonso.

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