Haas F1’s Grosjean Surprised that Both of Team’s Drivers Are Getting the Axe
Romain Grosjean says he is surprised that the Haas F1 Team ultimately decided that was time to clear the decks and go with two new drivers for the 2021 season.
Early Thursday, it was announced that Grosjean, who has been with Haas F1 for all five years of the team’s existence, and teammate Kevin Magunussen, who is in his fourth year with the team, were out at the end of this season.
Grosjean says he was told the decision was financial. The fact that both drivers were let go caught him off guard when he heard the news from team principal Guenther Steiner in phone call about a week ago.
“Yes, a little bit,” Grosjean said in a F1 drivers’ video teleconference on Thursday from Portugal and the site of this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix. “I knew probably one of us would be out at the end of the year just because the situation around the world, and COVID has made it very hard financially for a lot companies around the world. So, I knew one of us would go out.
“That’s what I said to Guenther on the call when he called me. I said, ‘I was expecting one of us.’ And he said, ‘No, for financial reasons, I need both of you out.’ So, fair enough. I fully understand. I know it’s been a tough year with COVID, and a lot of industries, a lot of companies have suffered from it. The team is going in a different path. I wish them luck and the best for the future.”
Grosjean and Magnussen both added that if the decision purely about money, their chances of sticking with team beyond 2020 were slim.
“I can’t bring the kind of backing that you need in Formula 1,” Magnussen said. “I have sponsors and I have partners, but it’s not at all big in this world. It’s not enough to make a difference, really, for me.
“I’m not going to speak for the team. I think Guenther and (team owner) Gene (Haas) and the team can do that. They can tell you why they did what they did. I just can’t bring what a lot of other drivers can bring out there. It is what it is, really.”
Grosjean agreed that if bringing a truckload of money is what it would take for him to keep his Haas seat, it wasn’t going to happen.
“I’ve had some partners in my career following me through different times and teams, but I’ve never been a pay driver as such,” Grosjean said. “And I don’t want to become one.”
The two drivers have fallen on hard times the past two seasons, in terms of success on track. After a high-water mark of fifth place in the F1 Constructors’ Championship in 2018, the team finished ninth in 2019. This season, Haas F1 is in a battle of backmarkers with Alfa Romeo and Williams at the back of the grid.
“I would say I’m very open at the moment to anything really,” said Magnussen when asked about his prospects for 2021. “I think for sure I feel that I have more to bring in Formula 1. I’m only just 28 years old and I still feel I have more to give in F1. But we’ll see.
“There’s not a lot of seats left, and also I really miss winning. I miss the feeling of winning races. That’s kind of really something that I’ve started to think about quite a lot recently, how much I miss that. We’ll see where that opportunity is and what comes my way.”
Grosjean, too, is looking forward to a fresh start, even if it means racing in slower cars.
“I’ve had a few discussions and a few options that I would love to race,” said Grosjean, 34. “I miss the winning feeling, as well. I miss coming into a race weekend thinking I can fight for a win this weekend, I can fight for podium, (that) I need to get the best of myself to get there, rather than just hoping to get out of Q1 and if things happen maybe score a point or two.
“It doesn’t mean you don’t give your best, but you miss something as a racer. Hopefully I can figure out good options for me.”
“Winning is something I really miss and hopefully I get back to it quite soon.”
Neither driver is willing to say good-bye to F1 just yet, but they both also realize the numbers aren’t in their favor.
“In Formula 1, there aren’t many seats left, and it looks complicated,” Grosjean said. “But I was looking at my 7-years-old son the other day, and I told him something was impossible. He looked at me and said, ‘Dad, in impossible, there is possible. So, there’s always a way.’ And coming from a 7-years-old boy, I found it really cool, and I liked it.
“Let’s see. I know it’s Formula 1 and there’s many, many challenges that are happening. Obviously, (opportunities) probably won’t be in cars as fast as Formula 1—nothing is as fast as an F1 car, but different challenges and winning. Winning is something I really miss and hopefully I get back to it quite soon.”
Magnussen, whose father Jan raced in the United States in both IMSA and IndyCar, says he’s open to just about anything right now.
“IndyCar has been something that I’ve been interested in always,” Magnussen said. “My dad was an Indy car driver back in the ’90s, and I’ve been to IndyCar races with him as a small child. Just always thought it was super cool. I would love to have a go in that at some time.
“At the moment, outside of Formula 1, the whole motor sport world is hit by these times that we have this year, and it doesn’t look easy to get good deals. We’ll see. I’m, not saying no to it at all, and I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it looks difficult.”
Have we seen the last of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in Formula 1? Who do you want to see in those Haas F1 seats next year? Join in the discussion in the comments below.
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