Haas F1 driver and former GP2 champion
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 driver and former GP2 champion, is the latest online driving instructor for SAFEisFAST.com.
The Frenchman has taken part in 84 Grand Prix races during a career that has spanned six seasons.
Romain Grosjean answers your questions!
Congratulations on such a great start to 2016! People often say you’ve matured a lot as a driver compared to your first few seasons in F1. Has your mindset and approach to racing changed since then, and if so, how?
Well, yes! The first season I was very quick. I would sometimes make the wrong judgement at the first turn of a race. That judgement takes two or three tenths of a second. They key questions was to understand, why?
Why was I making the wrong decision? Why was I compromising my race and other people’s race at the first corner? From there I moved on. It was quite interesting for me to go through that process. It was a tough time but I learned a lot and it’s helped get me to where I am today.
SAFEisFAST video: The Mental Edge
Hello Romain, I’ve been following your F1 career since the beginning and been very impressed by the way you have developed from the young driver who was fast – but crashed a lot – into the solid performer you are today. Many fast young drivers never seem to make this step, how did you do it?
I’ve been seeing a psychologist since September 2012 and Spa-Francorchamps. It has helped me a lot to become a better driver, a better father and a better man. We use engineers to set-up the car and we use coaches to improve our physical performance. Why wouldn’t you use a psychologist to improve your brain and the way it works? That’s why I did it.
Getting into ‘the zone’ is a term we hear a lot and we sometimes see drivers wanting to be alone. What do you do in the last minutes before a session to get in the right mindset, and did you change it at all after Belgium 2012?
It really depends. There is the routine for a race day which you tend to follow all the time. There are a few occasions where you want to be outside and maybe having a chat and a bit of a laugh, but there are other occasions where you just want to be on your own. I quite like to sit down for the last minute before I jump in the car at the side of the track. I like to be as quiet as I can.
SAFEisFAST Video: Focus and Concentration
Romain, how do the cornering g-forces loads affect your normal breathing? When I trained in an F3 car last year, sometimes it would take my breath away in high g-force corners. Is it a fitness issue? Go Haas!
Well thanks for the ‘Go Haas!’ first, that’s cool. You get used to g-forces by training and by doing more driving. I’m pretty sure that every time you take a high-speed corner you’re not really breathing anymore. Your cardiovascular system has to be really strong in order to recover as quickly as you can.
SAFEisFAST Video: Fitness Overview
What is the best way to teach a young driver the basics of cornering, such as as when to start your turn, when to lift, when to brake or roll and when to get back on the gas? Thanks!
I think, to be fair, the best thing you can do is to look at the data. Looking at data with an engineer will help you to understand what to do and how to improve yourself.
SAFEisFAST Video: The Fast Line
What kind of cardio do you do to stay fit in the car?
How do you balance the demands of your F1 racing career with your family life?
It’s not always easy. I’m lucky that when I’m home I get to spend some time with my kids and my family. But then yes, I’m away a lot. That has to be the hardest part of the job, especially with things like back-to-back races where you’re really far from your loved ones, you’re gone for two weeks. That said, there aren’t many jobs that in the winter allow you to spend three months with your family.
I will be driving a F1 car (V8) on the Barcelona GP track in July with LRS. Do you have recommendations or suggestions for this track?
There are a lot of recommendations I could go through here but my best advice would be for you to enjoy the day and enjoy driving a Formula One car. It is an amazing experience!
If you get an offer from Ferrari to race for them, would you accept it or would you rather stay with Haas, based on their start to the season?
It’s a bit too early to be thinking about it. I’m with Haas F1 Team, it’s a brand new project which is working very well. I’m focused on making it as successful as we can.
What does an average day in the life of Romain Grosjean look like during the F1 season?
Training, doing some social media, interviews and media work. I cook for the kids and pick them up from the day-care. We hang out and I have a lot of fun with them. I go to bed early though as sleep is vital for me.
If you could drive the Haas F1 car on any track in the world, which track would it be and why?
I love Suzuka. I’m really looking forward to going back there.
What’s on your pre-race music playlist?
I have lots of music that’s coming from Deezer, my on-demand playlist provider.
What are the most critical skills to build early in karting? What has carried over the most from karting to F1?
I think it’s the passion. The passion for racing, the passion for being a competitor, the passion for pushing yourself to the limit.
SAFEisFAST Videos: Karts to Cars What it Takes to Become a Champion
How do you deal with jet-lag on race weekends?
I try to follow a sleep plan. I try to get in the zone as early as possible. There are some races that are easier than others, China for example is always a tough one. Let’s see if I can make it easier this year than previous years.
How much of a role did you play in the design of the VF-16?
I have to admit that I didn’t do much. I joined the team in September 2015 and the design of the car was already very advanced. Since we’ve put the car on-track, I’ve been able to give more feedback to the engineers but everyone did an amazing job to create the Haas VF-16.
SAFEisFAST Video: Working with an Engineer
Drivers have always been taught that ‘smooth is fast’, however some great drivers are notorious for their late braking and lock ups. Can you comment?
You do have to think that you’re going slow in the car, that everything is easy. But, that doesn’t mean that you’re not pushing. Most of the time, when you feel you’re going slow and everything is normal and natural, you’re actually going very fast. It’s a fine line to find!
SAFEisFAST Video: Is Smooth Fast?
Out of the current F1 paddock, which driver would you choose as your ideal teammate (excluding Esteban and others you’ve already teamed with to date)?
Well, I would always say Jules Bianchi. He was a friend of mine and I miss him.
What is the thing you like most about racing in F1?
I just love it! It’s the best job in the world.
In the future, where will you be racing after Formula One?
I would like to go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I want to try to win it. I competed there in 2010 in a Ford GT and hopefully I can get back there one day.
If Formula One were to transition to completely electric (or other renewable energy) engines, would you still consider it to be the same sport? Would it change how you view it? I’ve talked to many people who say they would stop watching, which perplexes me.
For me, Formula One has to be the pinnacle of motorsport. We have to have the best cars in the world. At the moment, the best technology we have is a petrol engine. I like the technology, I like pushing the car to the limit. I like being able to drive the fastest cars in the world.