Romain Grosjean, Haas, Albert Park, 2020

Grosjean reveals 3am text from Vettel saying he wouldn’t race in Australia

2020 F1 season

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Romain Grosjean has shed light on how Formula 1 drivers found out the Australian Grand Prix was being cancelled before it was announced.

The Haas driver revealed his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel told him the race was off in a WhatsApp chat early on Friday morning, several hours before it was confirmed.

“The rumours started happening on Thursday evening,” said Grosjean in an interview with Kym Illman. “Thursday into Friday I didn’t sleep very well. At 3am I was WhatsApp-ing with Sebastian Vettel.

“I was like ‘where are you, why are you awake?’ and he’s like ‘I’m going to the airport.’ He was like ‘it’s cancelled, it’s not happening’. I said I haven’t heard anything official so I stay around.

“He said ‘my team has told me that I’m free to go so I’m gone’. So like 3, 4am on Friday morning in Melbourne time that’s when I knew things were going to not look right.”

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The confusion over the fate of the race continued for several hours. It was eventually cancelled at around 10am, after fans had already begun queuing at the track gates.

The first eight races of the season have now been called off. Grosjean has since returned home and is looking after his children while he waits for the season to begin, which won’t happen until the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14th at the earliest.

“We just need to wait [to see how] the situation goes,” he said. “I think the bigger picture is much more important than going racing, even though it feels very strange to be home at this time of the year.

“For me we are in January. I can’t take the fact that we are almost in April. January I’m home, I do the training block, then February I go winter testing and then March onwards I go racing. But now we are in April and I’m at home.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Grosjean reveals 3am text from Vettel saying he wouldn’t race in Australia”

  1. So I’m like, would Seb really whatsapp with Grosjean of all the colleagues in the paddock? Then I’m like, oh I’m not sure I believe this 100%. I’m like, probably Seb would more likely contact Lewis or Max or his pal Kimi.
    I’m like, Grosjean?

    1. If you’re right, what’s in it for Grosjean to lie in such a public and easily disproven manner?

      I’d say that those of us who’re not part of the F1 paddock often draw thicker lines separating the drivers and members within. I’d say those people within see & respect the human far more than those of us outside, so it is hardly inconceivable that Vettel would have had such a conversation with Grosjean, or have told him of that.

      1. Just to answer the “rhetorical question”: “I think Ericsson hit us”

          1. ’cause… it’s so like… V slow… the news is like so slow… sorry not sorry… I can’t even… like taking fo’evs… to cancel

    2. It also might have been a driver group chat.
      So maybe they talked in there.

    3. Vettel and Grosjean are Directors of F1’s Drivers’ Association. So very natural for them to be interacting a lot

      1. @bulsie – good point, that might very well be it, especially for a situation like this.

    4. What would you know about who Seb is friends with?

    5. they both proeminent figures of the GPDA

    6. Short memory much?

      Seb has Grosjean to thank for the 2012 title. That year Alonso drove possibly the most amazing in any season of f1 history. Yet he was denied the title due to a collision caused by Grosjean. Grosjean was famous for smashing into everyone, but usually made things easy for Seb. Grosjean is a first class …….

    7. First of all ham and vettel aren’t friends they are friendly infront of cameras but behind the screens they probably don’t like each other especially after baku. Max and vettel hate each other and after ferrari fired kimi I can see why kimi doesn’t like Vettel. Its more proof vettel is two faced, he lies to the cameras

      1. You alright mate?

      2. aww cute, here we go again. Welcome Back ! I was worried, really missed your hatred. Well, would you like some cheese to your whine? :*

        Seriously though Vettel is a what you need to be to become a 4 times WDC. Ricciardo/Webber are nice guys, very likeable and all but simply no WDC material..

        cheers!

        1. William Jones
          26th March 2020, 21:02

          I have to say, I do disagree. I think it’s perfectly possible to be a nice guy and become a world champion – see Jenson Button. I also think it’s perfectly possible to be a nice guy and become a multiple world champion – bear with me here – Sebastion Vettel. Yes, I get it, baku and a few other occasions have shown him snap under pressure, but Riccardo has his moments too, Mexico last year being the one I remember, and can you imagine the criticism Vettel would get if he destroyed his front wing by taking to the grass at his home grand prix at the start? For every mistake I see Vettel make on track, for every bad moment, I see an equal moment of his excellent humour, great sportsmanship on track and smiles for the press and the fans.

          1. I think it’s perfectly possible to be a nice guy and become a world champion

            You can add Damon Hill, Jim Clark and Fangio to that list.

      3. @carlosmedrano If you have children I hope you don’t instil in them your same ability to make vast assumptions with no proof whatsoever, even throwing in a ‘probably’ (I’ll give you that) and then call your misguided opinion, which is all it is, ‘proof’ of anything whatsoever.

    8. While fans think Grosjean is a clown, he is respected in the paddock and a director of the GPDA along with Vettel.

      That’s why he would have been talking to Seb. @islander

      1. The team always speaks very highly of him too.

    9. Like like like like like

    10. I really don’t think that that’s the case. He’s not gaining anything by saying it, and it doesn’t sound implausible.

    11. @Islander My guess is that Sebastian would only message his particular friends, ones he could trust not to spill information prematurely – rather than telling all the drivers, because he wouldn’t see that as being his job. The most illuminating thing about this article for me is that Sebastian counts Romain as one of those friends.

      (I’m reasonably sure Sebastian also told this to Kimi, because then it makes perfect sense why they were on the same plane out of Australia – which I think left around 6 am, or four hours before official cancellation).

  2. “For me we are in January. I can’t take the fact that we are almost in April. January I’m home, I do the training block, then February I go winter testing and then March onwards I go racing. But now we are [almost] in April and I’m at home.”

    It does put things in perspective, doesn’t it? In January, I was wondering how I’d survive the winter break. Now – while I’ll be happy to see racing back on the menu – I’d first like things to get back to “normalcy”, or what might pass for the “new normal” of tomorrow.

    1. @phylyp Indeed. In my valley, only 8 weeks ago we were mopping up after the floods, thinking 2020 can’t get any worse from here…

  3. Vettel confirmed it to me via a selfie with me in the depatures area at precisely 4:17am. Admittedly he looked a bit stunned that he’d been spotted but nonetheless he was kind enough to share a moment with me. Have a look at Dieter’s twitter page, there’s my photo.

  4. Ferrari used their veto?

    It was public knowledge both Vettel and Kimi had left before the big cancellation announcement, as both were seen at the airport. The delay and the problems it created for the spectators who ended up at the track were caused by Carey, who couldn’t be cared enough to be in Australia until the very last minute.

    1. @Jon Bee Ferrari’s veto only applies with regulation changes. Alas.

  5. I wish I were in that WhatsApp-group.

  6. For whatever the faults of Vettel, he did the right thing with regards to leaving the venue in Australia.

    1. The point is more that if Vettel was told it’s not going to happen then why let spectators show up and only then tell them it’s cancelled?

      1. That question needs to be answered by organisers and FIA/FOM.

      2. It seems that cancellation was a formality, the argument was who cancels and therefore who is liable! This is not an argument of minutes.

        1. @eurobrun Yeah perhaps regarding liability, but let’s not forget that the Australian government, at least in 2019 as I read, ponied up half of the cost of putting on the race, to the tune of $60 mill, so not only was this not solely someone like Chase Carey’s decision, this was also about a country deciding to set a tone for it’s entire population, not just for F1 fans, that would signify shutting down the economy far beyond the F1 race. All countries resisted this to some degree or other knowing how devastating this will be to our economic well-being. Likely the government was involved in the decision so that they could organize themselves to answer inevitable questions as to what the cancellation of the F1 race would signify for all events and businesses in the whole of Australia.

        2. @eurobrun It could have been any of the FIA. FOM or the promoter – all of them could (and should) with equal authority have cited third-party WHO health-and-safety obligations to withdraw their own staff (thus rendering the race impossible to run). An equitable sharing of expenses should have been agreed, which would have taken much less time if nobody at the table was getting the blame or the full expense.

          That they did not leaves all of them potentially liable if any of Melbourne’s current COVID-19 can be traced back to the paddock’s continued presence in Melbourne, or that Friday morning pool of punters.

  7. It was cancelled 3 hours prior to Vettel telling Grosjean.
    Mercedes CEO informed their F1 team at midnight … that they were not to race.
    Thus with Mercedes pulling the plug it had an imodiate domino effect and quickly became a matter of only 3 teams wanting to continue.. RedBull, ToroRosso, and Racing Point.
    Thats why there was so much hesitation as to continue with the race with only 3 teams.

  8. Ferrari and haas sharing information. Ban them, make Romain the new Piquet jr. xD

  9. my team has told me that I’m free to go so I’m gone

    My suspicion is Australia had less Covid-19 infections than wherever Sebastian went to.

    1. The Ferrari pit garage? You sure about that…

      1. Also Dubai, it has become the origin of highest cases of infection from mid east.

    2. @drycrust Per capita, probably not as many as the Melbourne paddock at the point of decision…

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