Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2016

Grosjean revels in the 'Americanisation' of F1

Haas driver Romain Grosjean in an F1 simulator yesterday. The Frenchman is enjoying life at his new team and believes he made the right choice switching from Renault.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean in an F1 simulator yesterday. The Frenchman is enjoying life at his new team and believes he made the right choice switching from Renault.ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

When Formula One (F1) driver Romain Grosjean made the switch from Lotus (now renamed Renault) to new racing outfit Haas Ferrari, eyebrows were raised.

Some felt the Frenchman, who had spent five years with Lotus, was jumping from the frying pan into the fire by signing for the American debutants last year.

But Grosjean is having the last laugh. Ahead of this weekend's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, Haas sit eighth on 28 points in the constructor standings - one place above Renault, who have six.

Grosjean, who earned all the 28 points and is ranked 13th in the driver standings, said: "It's a great challenge. Being part of an American team for their first year is something amazing.

"For myself, my career, my image, joining a brand new team and being able to score the first few points for the team is a unique experience.

"The way Haas approach Formula One is very intelligent and so far, it's been great for me. On the other hand, I also knew it'd be difficult for Lotus to keep up a good performance this year."

The 30-year-old, speaking to The Straits Times at a Saxo Capital Markets and Jaguar Land Rover event, also hailed team owner Gene Haas.

He said: "The working culture is pretty similar between both teams but the biggest difference is the mentality from Gene. He's the best team owner I've ever had.

"He loves racing, he understands racing and knows things are going to take time. He doesn't put any pressure on anyone and just wants everyone to do their best."

As a member of an American-led F1 team, Grosjean also welcomed the sale of the sport to US billionaire John Malone's Liberty Media group.

"America knows how to put on a show if you take a look at the Super Bowl or Nascar," he added.

"It's such a big country and a big market. In the Austin Grand Prix last year, people were enthusiastic and they loved the sport. The whole city stops, and it's a lot of fun for everyone on and off the track.

"It'd even be nice to have a second grand prix there. I'd love to have a race on the West Coast, maybe somewhere around Los Angeles. If we get more races in the US, they'll probably love F1 more."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Grosjean revels in the 'Americanisation' of F1'. Print Edition | Subscribe