Grosjean: “Financial reasons” behind Haas decision to replace both drivers

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Romain Grosjean says he thought Haas would replace one of its drivers due to financial reasons, but did not expect he and team mate Kevin Magnussen would lose their drives.

Grosjean and Magnussen both announced today they will not remain with the team for the 2021 F1 season, which Haas subsequently confirmed. Steiner said earlier today both drivers had been told of the decision last week.

Speaking in the FIA press conference for the Portuguese Grand Prix, Grosjean said that he had expected the global financial impact of Covid-19 would cause Haas to rethink their driver plans for 2021.

“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 of companies around the world,” he said. “So I knew one of us would go out and that’s what I said to Guenther 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, you know, fair enough, I fully understand.

“I know it’s been a tough year with Covid and that a lot of industries or companies have suffered from it. And as I say, the team is going on a different path and I wish them luck and the best for the future.”

Both drivers said they couldn’t compete with potential offers other drivers could bring to the team. Magnussen said that, for a financially struggling team, his backing would not “make a difference” overall.

“I can’t bring the kind of backing that you need,” he 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.”

Grosjean said he has no interest in looking for bigger backing. “I’ve had some some partners in my career following me through different time, the teams, but I’ve never been pay driver, as such, and don’t want to become one.”

He admitted an earlier decision by the team would have given the drivers more time to look elsewhere. “It wasn’t our call to make the decision of when to announce. Obviously, earlier is always a bit better, it gives us a bit more time to find anything.”

However Grosjean acknowledged he had later calls in his earlies days in F1, “In 2012, or was it ’11, I was told on the eighth of December I was going to be in Formula 1 the year after. So I’ve known later.

“So, I think I could tell that the decision was made some some time ago, but I guess Guenther felt good enough to tell us last week and that’s just fine by me.”

Magnussen said he had been looking into other options already, “I’ve been kind of thinking about options for a while, so it didn’t change a lot, once Guenther told me that they were going to look for other drivers.

“I would have considered it very seriously if if I’d been offered something from from Haas. But I have been looking elsewhere for a while.”

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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27 comments on “Grosjean: “Financial reasons” behind Haas decision to replace both drivers”

  1. Strong move from Haas. A little bit surprised Magnussen is gone as well, but Grosjean has been disappointing for a long time now.

    1. A strong move if done 2 years ago. A necessity today.

  2. Grosjean still thinks he is good enough? Both drivers have erratic performances. Both have made stupid errors that you expect of rookies.
    Those stupid errors have cost the team financially and in development.
    Plus you hear nothing of how the two get on and help push development together etc.

    I think it’s time to clear out the cupboard – I also think Gunther should bring on a new team principle and have a role more like Zac Brown.

    What do others think?

    1. Agree, This is Steiner’s first foray in running a F1 team and Haas hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire nor improving at all since the their first season. They’ve been acting differently than other F1 teams and have made some odd decisions like picking sponsors and managing there talent and calls made during races.
      A seasoned F1 manager running the show could be a good call and who can give a whole new & fresh perspective on how Haas should proceed.

      Maybe Otmar could be the one, I’m not sure how well things are going over at Racing Point? There definitely seems to be a big culture and management direction change at Racing Point. Definitely nothing like the old Force India, a team who was able to fight well above their weight.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd October 2020, 16:25

    “I’ve had some some partners in my career following me through different time, the teams, but I’ve never been pay driver, as such, and don’t want to become one.”

    The harsh but honest truth I can respect from Grosjean. Looking at the current grid and the drivers that are probably going to replace KMag and Grosjean, it’s getting pretty absurd when it comes to paydrivers in all honesty.

    You’ve got Stroll, who doesn’t even know where the rainlight is, pushes the wrong button when team says ‘use energy’ and screams to the team he doesn’t have any energy left, and uses the radio button instead of the overtake one. You’d think it was his first season.

    Then obviously Latifi, who has no business being in F1 at all. Four seasons in F2 (and a dosen extra F2 races) and still not becoming the champion: Why bother at that point. Add Giovinazzi into the mix (not 100% paydriver as its basically Ferrari paying) because Ferrari wants an Italian on the grid and finish of with Mazepin coming in. That’s a fifth of the grid that has nothing to do in F1 and are only in it because of their fathers money. I get F1 is expensive and teams need to find money somewhere, but come on. Surely this has to stop.

    1. @barryfromdownunder

      That’s a fifth of the grid that has nothing to do in F1 and are only in it because of their fathers money. I get F1 is expensive and teams need to find money somewhere, but come on. Surely this has to stop.

      It won’t stop until all F1 teams are able to run profitably. Hopefully the cost cap will help, but I’m not holding my breath.

      “How do you make a small fortune in motor racing? Start with a large one.”

    2. @barryfromdownunder by historical standards, that would actually be considered low – bear in mind that Gerhard Berger once dismissed over half the drivers on the grid in the early 1990s as being pay drivers (he basically said you had about half a dozen drivers who were there on talent and the rest were mainly there because of their money).

  4. When Haas came along, I admired their choice (and the financial ability) to bring on drivers with little in the way of funding, but fairly long on F1 experience. I thought that really spoke to their ultimate goals of moving up the grid to eventually fight for podiums and maybe someday even a win. So now times are tough, and I guess you do what you have to do to remain in the sport, but with the likelihood of them having to sign 2 untested rookies pretty high, I have to kind of wonder why Gene Haas has decided to stay on at all…even if only for another year.

    1. @schooner

      Couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the situation. Why bother staying in F1 if your stated goals of gaining brand exposure has been accomplished and you have been planning to jettison the one stable aspect of your program, the veteran drivers, to take on two untested, pay to play drivers to develop an already horrendous car? My guess, shortly after the driver lineup in announced, the rumored sale of the team will come to the fore. Until there is a more level playing field in F1, it will always be a technology demonstration vice a real motorsport.

  5. I don’t trust this reason at all. It’s more because of the erratic actions, silly antics, hateful messages and the “(Driver) Out” calls.

  6. Yes, repairing cars is expensive..

    1. Ahah, that’s a good one!

    2. :o)
      I’m a bit surprised Haas couldn’t rustle up some Netflix sponsorship for the pair. They could have had their own series.

  7. Here’s a guy that spent the last few years performing very erratically, and getting the team a huge bill for repairs every now and then. Along the same pitlane, there’s Perez: a very, very safe pair of hands, much faster and consistent and with a huge wallet behind him.

    You can argue money is one of the reasons why Grosjean is being outsted. Because if he had a lot of money and brought a lot of sponsors to the team, they’d think twice before letting him go. But he doesn’t, and his performances don’t turn the scale the other way…

    If I were him, I’d call myself lucky I got to race this year…

  8. …but I’ve never been pay driver…

    One can argue that every professional driver is a pay driver, in the sense someone is paying their company or team to let them drive. Basically someone is making a profit after paying for the vehicle and driver. Romain and Kevin may well be paid by Haas to drive, but Haas needed to make a profit from their driving. From the sound of what’s been said Haas weren’t making enough of a profit after the deduction of the drivers wages and vehicle expenses.
    One source of income is the F1 performance related distribution of income from the sale of TV rights. So better performance means more income. I wouldn’t be surprised if better performance could have made it easier for Haas to charge their sponsors more too. Maybe if Kevin and Romain had produced better results then Haas wouldn’t be in the position of looking for drivers who can supplement the income from the usual sources. Those other drivers will be paid as well, but maybe not directly by the team.

  9. I just really hope that Haas don’t appoint two young drivers, completely new to F1 just for the extra funding they can bring to the team. As others have pointed out, this does not really benefit Haas in the long run or the sport as a whole. There has been too much of this in recent years by either choice or necessity. Quite frankly there’s no point in having these teams in the sport if they purely rely on pay drivers unless they are exceptional talents as well. We might even be better off with the better funded teams running three cars. Something I never thought I would say.

    I hope they bring in at least one driver with some experience e.g. Perez or Hulkenberg. Perez ticks both boxes as he brings funding as well.

  10. I doubt Perez will find a drive, he might have backers but he`s also one of the most abrasive characters in F1, some teams might be desperate enough to take the money but I doubt it.

  11. It would be nice for an “American” team to have an “American” driver. Nice but not required. Sergio would be great. But as much as I like Romain and Kevin, they should have changed at least one driver last year…

  12. Or they could go for Nico. Any Nico.

    1. I vote Nico Bellic the street racer from team Bruce kibbutz garage.

    2. Interesting idea, and it might even have worked (she might well be better at driving than “singning”, to use that word in its broadest sense), but unfortunately we will never know – she died in 1988

      1. .. and that, of course, should have been “singing”, not “signing”. I have no opinion on her penmanship

  13. I have to believe Haas already has commitments from their replacement drivers.

  14. At least something good came after the pandemic..

  15. Need to replace the other underperformer in the team now – Steiner.
    He can go play somewhere else with his fancy Ferrari.

  16. Silly for Grosjean to put this purely on financial backing. Sure, it’s an important part, but I’m sure if he’s looked at himself in the mirror over the past 3 seasons, he can definitely attach a lot of blame to some seriously poor performances.

    Magnussen… I guess it’s no point in him justifying his exit. He was pretty unimpressive from his 2nd race in F1 up until what I presume will be his last.

  17. Both should have gone after their second season.

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