MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Romain Grosjean suffered a painful sense of deja vu on Sunday after a repeat of his Haas team’s 2018 pitstop woes at Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Last year’s nightmare featured prominently in a recent Netflix documentary series and Grosjean’s latest retirement, after another problem with his car’s left front wheel, came as an unwelcome re-run.
“Deja vu,” said the Frenchman. “Second year in a row, same problem. Third year in a row retiring here while I’m into the points.
“I think Australia doesn’t like me. I love the country, I love coming here, I love the track. I’ve always had a good feeling here. The car was fast, the pitstop was very long. And then something broke on the car.
“I haven’t really looked at the car. I just put the steering wheel back on and I walked away shouting some bad words,” he said of his retirement.
Last year both Grosjean and team mate Kevin Magnussen qualified in the top 10 and were fourth and fifth and heading for the team’s best result until it all went wrong at the pitstops.
Both left the pits with left side wheels not fully attached, retiring shortly afterwards.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, now hailed as a Netflix star even if he has yet to find time to watch the episodes, assured fans before Melbourne that the team had worked overtime on pitstop practice.
“It’s deja vu,” he agreed on Sunday. “We got it (the wheel) on but lost the positions anyway and then I think it was five or six laps later and this happened.
“It looks like just something broke when we put it on with sheer force the second time around.”
Steiner could at least take consolation in Magnussen finishing sixth to send Haas fourth in the standings and ahead of Renault.
“The good thing I take away is that last year we went away last because we didn’t score any points,” said Steiner. “This year we go away fourth, we are two points ahead of fifth.
“The car seems to perform very well. For sure we have to do the same in the next 20 races but it seems to be solid, the drivers like it.”
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)