“F1: The More You Do, The More You Understand, The More You See – Romain Grosjean”

Throughout his career, Romain Grosjean has proved an enigmatic racer, whose profile has been dominated incidents intertwined with undoubted speed.

Recently World in Motorsport spoke to the Haas driver about the moments that have defined his career and how mind management has allowed him to keep his feet on the ground.

It has not been the easiest of season’s for Romain Grosjean. At the time of talking – just prior to the Russian Grand Prix – the Haas racer had yet to score a point – a statistic finally rectified at this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix.

And yet, Grosjean is phlegmatic about his situation. Initially he appears at ease with himself and yet, one can identify a level of frustration simmers below the surface.

It is a frustration that has on occasion boiled over on team radio during race weekends, but over the course of the past eight years, Grosjean has worked hard to counter these frustrations, with the help of sport psychologists.

However, unlike many in motor racing’s top tier, the Frenchman is open to discussing the topic of sports psychology, seeing it not as a weakness, but as a method of self-improvement – from both a personal and sporting aspect. “So many examples out there and you see it from outside where some need help and there are some who are having help, but they don’t talk about it. It’s still a bit of a taboo, but for some people, they don’t want to talk about it, but if I have a fitness coach to get stronger, why wouldn’t I have a psychologist to get my head better? To me, it’s a simple as that.

“I think it helps you to become a better person. In life, we go through challenges and having kids is one of the most incredible experiences on Earth, but also one of the most challenging. Seeing a psychologist when I had my first, my second and my third kids always helped me as a man and also, in a way, as a sportsman.”

Given the full-on nature of Formula One, Grosjean admits that sometimes it can be difficult to separate his personal and professional lives and says that working with a psychologist has given him the focus and ability to find balance. “If things are going wrong at home when you come to a racetrack, it is very difficult to completely separate that. You need to make sure that one of the two lives, if you want, goes well.

“It’s not easy, but as I say, the more you do, the more you understand, the more you see the situation, the more you can position yourself, the more easy it is to reflect on a session. When you say, ‘Look guys, I haven’t done a good job – don’t worry about the car, it’s going to be fine, it’s just me, I didn’t drive well, because of this and that.’”.

In the background, rumours regarding Grosjean’s future with the American team continue to swirl; rumours which have only accelerated as the discontent between the two parties has turned public. “For the third race in a row, [Grosjean was asked in a press conference] ‘What’s your future like?’ There aren’t many places left in Formula One and Haas wants to take their time… It’s always repetitive pressure and if you do Formula One, that’s your life.

“It puts you into a frustrating place and then you know you’re frustrated, so you just act a little bit differently and I understand what’s causes your brain to work and how to be in the right place.”

As with all sport the world over, the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with Formula One’s schedules and has also necessitated racing in front of bare or even empty grandstands. Stating that without the fans, the atmosphere at races has been very different, the 34-year-old acknowledges that “something is missing,” particularly given the normally charged events that Grand Prix are.

Despite this, Grosjean is finding some calm amidst the surrounding storms, aided by an emptier Grand Prix paddock. “It’s different. There’s less media, less marketing to be done, less sponsors, so there’s more [time],” Grosjean says. “You get to the track, you do the engineers meeting, you do the driving, you debrief, you get some time to yourself to think about what you can do in the next sessions, rather than being thrown around, going to the Paddock Club with those guys, go to an autograph session, go see the media, come say ‘Hi’ to the guests and next thing you know, you’re off, you need to go driving now.

“In that aspect for drivers, I think it’s been quite positive that we actually have a little bit more time for ourselves.”

Having made his Formula One debut in 2009, when he replaced the fired Nelson Piquet Jr at Renault, Grosjean quickly found himself back on the sidelines, with his stint lasting only seven races. Come season end, the Frenchman was cast adrift, but understands now he was missing the maturity and help necessary to fully grasp what was developing around him. “I wish I would know in 2009 everything I know now,” he recalls. “I wasn’t ready to come to Formula One in 2009 and I was missing key people around me, which is really very important for young drivers to step in and have people that can help them.”

Thereafter, Grosjean competed in the FIA GT1 World Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours with Matech competition, while simultaneously winning the Auto GP Series – despite only taking part in two-thirds of the races. In 2011, he won both the GP2 Series and GP2 Asia Series, before returning to Formula One a year later with Lotus.

Despite it being a controversial year for Grosjean, filled with accidents and incidents – one of which earned him a race ban for the that year’s Italian Grand Prix, Grosjean still looks upon the season with some positivity. “Since 2012 – everyone talks about those incidents, but [apart from that], it was a pretty good season. There aren’t many rookies that have come and scored podiums, p2 finishes, led Grands Prix, had a fastest lap in their first year.”

With it looking likely that both he and Magnussen may be replaced at Haas for 2021 – possibly with younger talent from the junior formulae – Grosjean has a message for those looking to jump into Formula One before they are truly ready. “I wish I had matured earlier. Even though you think you have won Formula 2… no, no, no, no, no, no… you’re not ready,” he ponders.

“It’s a big switch that you need to be ready to accept and probably I wasn’t so… let’s forget the first experience in Formula One,” states Grosjean firmly.

“I don’t think you know what’s coming.”

For the full version of this discussion with Romain Grosjean, as well as conversations with Rubens Barrichello, Conor Daly and WRC’s Richard Millener, Yves Matton, Andrea Adamo and Colin Clark, check back for the next issue of World in Motorsport – coming soon.

“WRC: Rallying Needs to Act, Not React If It Wants to Survive – Adamo”

There is little doubt that the advent of Coronavirus has dealt a crushing blow to motorsport activity in 2020.

For Hyundai’s WRC team boss Andrea Adamo, the pandemic is yet another sign that a new way of thinking is needed if motorsport is to survive.

“If we don’t react now, or if we don’t act now, we will find a problem.”

Andrea Adamo is not a man known for pulling punches. The Italian has a reputation for not dispensing bullshit and getting straight to the point.

It is an approach that some find jarring, but for others, his approach is a breath of fresh air that has earned him a great deal of respect.

With drivers Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen, alongside part-timers Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo, Adamo and his crew delivered Hyundai’s first WRC Manufacturer title, following several seasons of playing 2nd fiddle to Volkswagen, M-Sport Ford and Toyota.

However, as costs have grown under the WRC’s current Group R regulations, the 49-year-old Adamo is adamant that more need to be done to secure the future of teams and manufacturers. “I’m working with my colleagues and working internally to try to protect 2021, because 2020 is in danger, but I think 2021 is even more dangerous situation, because I cannot see how I can have the same budget I had this year,” says Adamo.

With rivals Toyota pushing hard with an-already stellar Yaris and M-Sport clipping at their heels in the Ford Fiesta, Adamo knows significant financial input will be necessary to ensure a fair and convincing title push.

Yet as manufacturers analyse budgets amidst the 2nd global financial meltdown in less than 15 years, Adamo is keen to press that only a budget geared for success will win out. “When we ask for the 2021 budget, if we don’t have a proper action to reduce costs, the risk is that maybe someone has no more money to compete. When you ask the board for the money, they ask ‘how much you need to win’, not ‘[how much do you need] to hang around.’ If they are not able to give me the money to win, they will simply tell me, ‘we won’t give you the money.”

It is no secret that while the current set of WRC cars are incredibly fast and impressive to watch, they are also the most expensive machines the category has ever produced. Reductions in costs are expected when the 2022 regulations come to pass; however, the Hyundai man is keen to press that the FIA and WRC Promoter need to be proactive in times of crises. “We have to act, because if we react to the problems, it will be too late,” warns Adamo. “The problem very clearly, which I already tried to explain to the FIA people and the promoter, is that this thing is not a momentary illness – this is a big problem that we will have in the future.”

While costs remain a worry for the future, Adamo is looking forward to the introduction of the new car in 2022. Although delivering a new car will no doubt bring higher initial costs, the reductions in running WRC machinery thereafter is thought to be encouraging. If not, the fallout could be significant for the WRC. “We have to be smart and make rules that will not oblige us to spend the huge amount of money to make these cars. If it is affordable, we will be there and if not, my bosses tell me what to do.”

There is no doubt that the latest Group R machines made many take another look at the WRC, yet despite this, Adamo thinks the current regulations has turned the top-level of rallying away from its true identity and he cites Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport model as the way forward.

“The direction that has been taken with very specific WRC car cannot last forever. It is not in the DNA of rallying and it is not in the DNA of the categories, it is not what is needed. The best example is with what Malcolm has done. He had a market for these cars that sold, so everyone could use them.”

Adamo continues, “If you want to do Formula One [as] rally, you will kill [rallying]. We have seen in the past there has been tried to have a Formula One [in rally] and it has never been a big success.

“Rallies are rallies. Full stop. The DNA is there. You cannot transform rally in Formula One; it will never work.”

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For the full version of this interview, as well as conversations with WRC’s Richard Millener, Yves Matton & Colin Clark, and a long talk with Rubens Barrichello, come back for the next issue of World in Motorsport, to be published in July.

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Andrea Adamo is seen on day 4 duringthe World Rally Championship Monte-Carlo in Gap, France on January 26, 2020 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-22WWTTBA11W11 // Usage for editorial use only //

“F1: It Was Clear for Me to Change My Life – Gerhard Berger”

Hockenheim II: DTM Hockenheim II 2018 on October, 12, 2018, (Photo by Hoch Zwei)
Pressekonferenz: Gerhard Berger, Vorsitzender ITR e.V.,

Gerhard Berger may be fondly remembered as one of the jokers of Formula One’s past, but with ten victories over the course of fourteen seasons, he is also one of the most highly respected drivers of the 1980s and 90s.

Now 60 and long retired as a Formula One driver, the Austrian tells World in Motorsport of his final year as a driver at motorsport’s top level.

“Y’know there was a funny thing,” Gerhard Berger says dryly. “There was Monza and I was staying in a hotel and I was in the top floor in the penthouse, and when it starts raining.”

Situated toward the rear of the DTM’s paddock motorhome with a few deft touches of the table-top, Berger motioned the changing conditions with the tips of his fingers. “You hear the [rain] tap, tap, tap, tap, because you wake up and over all the years I used to say, ‘Oh great, there’s rain, I have an extra chance and an extra risk.’

“Then suddenly I heard the tap, tap, tap, tap, and I said, ‘Oh shit, it’s raining tomorrow, it’s dangerous’, and I said to myself that it was a clear sign.”

Berger came into the 1997 Formula One season looking to improve on what had been a tough previous year. Having moved from Ferrari to Benetton at the end of 1995, neither Berger nor teammate Jean Alesi were able to come close to emulating the success enjoyed by the Italian team and their German pilot, Michael Schumacher.

From race winners and champions, Benetton were resigned to collecting occasional podia amidst a smattering of points finishes. Indeed, of the 16 Grand Prix held in 1996, Berger failed to finish in eight, including – most gallingly – that year’s German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, where the Austrian retired three laps from the end, having dominated the event. On the other side of the garage, Alesi fared little better.

Although rumours floated that he was in discussions with Williams and Sauber for 1998, Berger admitted to World in Motorsport that his decision to leave Formula One was made relatively early in 1997, revealing that, “It came from all sides at the same time and it was clear for me to change my life.”

Despite an early season podium at Interlagos, followed by the birth of daughter Heidi the next day, Berger’s season began to unravel after the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Surgery to tackle an inflamed sinus, followed by an aggravated infection and additional surgery, kept Berger out of his Benetton seat for three Grand Prix. During this period, Berger’s father Johann was tragically killed in private aeroplane accident in the mountain regions of Tirol.

Upon his return to Grand Prix competition at the German Grand Prix, Berger once again dominated at the Hockenheimring – this time taking pole, winning the race and apart from the pit stops, he led every lap. It proved a popular victory and is considered the finest of his ten race wins in Formula One. “All the stories are known. The thing with my father, the sickness, the difficult period I had with my team,” he remembers. “Still it worked out. And it wasn’t really a car where we had an advantage to the others and it became so clear – pole position, quickest lap, winning the race.

“My mind said prove again what you are capable of doing and it showed me how much the mind can actually [do]. It’s unbelievable, it proved it even to myself what the mind is able to move and to do.”

Time was moving on however, and at the end of the season, Berger officially announced his retirement from Formula One. “It felt very welcome in the paddock, because I felt people liked me, but at the same time, it was like, ‘What are you doing here? Your time is over.’”

Since retirement, he led BMW’s return to Formula One in the early-2000s, before becoming 50% owner in the early days of Toro Rosso (now Alpha Centauri). For three years, he was also President of the FIA Single Seat Commission and later became chairman of the ITR – the promoter of the DTM. Although he may not be competing anymore, Berger continues to push and use some of the lessons from his racing in his business dealings.

“This mixture between discipline, killer instinct and competition – you can use it in different ways in business,” says Berger. “I find it is an extremely good advantage. Also, I have my logistics business and my business meetings, and, in the discussions, it is quite interesting, because what you don’t measure has no value. You have to measure numbers, how long you need for this and people are sometimes surprised.

“My life was always measured by a stopwatch and the watch wasn’t lying, the numbers weren’t lying, so forget all your feelings and all these things – get it measured and then get judged by your performance. This basic way of thinking helps you in a lot of ways.”

For the full version of this interview, as well as conversations with and Rubens Barrichello – Formula One’s most experienced driver – and WRC’s Richard Millener, Andrea Adama, Yves Matton and Colin Clark, come back for the next issue of World in Motorsport, to be published in July.


Klettwitz: DTM Lausitzring Test 2019, Klettwitz on April, 16, 2019, (Photo by Hoch Zwei)

“WRC: ‘It’s almost at the point where we say ‘bin the season’’ – Colin Clark”

One of the WRC’s leading commentator’s, Colin Clark, believes that it may be time for the FIA to cancel the rest of the season in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to World in Motorsport this week, Clark mused that, while there doesn’t appear to be a specified number of events required to complete a WRC season, he believes there may need to be at least four more events to validate the championship.

Beginning in January, the WRC was able to run three events before the spread of the deadly Coronavirus stopped the season in its tracks during Rally Mexico in mid-March.

According to Clark – a regular reporter for the online magazine DirtFish, following several years as stopline report for WRC Rally Radio and All Live – a number of events may potentially be viable, but quarantine measures could hamper event participation and preparation.

“Remember M-Sport are based in the UK, a lot of the media, an awful lot of the WRC infrastructure is based in the UK,” says Clark. “This quarantine period that [the government] are introducing into the UK – if we have to spend two weeks in quarantine every time we come back to the UK it makes the whole thing very, very difficult. Difficult to schedule and difficult to logistically manage.”

One of the most respected and knowledgeable voices in the Service Park, Clark thinks there are opportunities to run the likes of Rally Turkey and Rally Germany, but beyond that, the championship could struggle to pull events together. “I think they’ll struggle to get four more rounds before the end of the year. Very much doubt we’ll go to Italy; GB’s in a lot of doubt; we pretty much know we’re not going to Kenya; Argentina I’m certain won’t be rescheduled and Japan also has to be in a bit of doubt, so I think we’ll struggle to get four rounds by the end of the year.”

So critical are the circumstances, Clark admits that it may be time for the FIA to cancel the rest of this season’s WRC competition, particularly as advice from various governments remains fluid and open to change and differing interpretations. “It’s almost at the point where we say, ‘bin it, bin the season.’

“We need to plan; we need to sit down and talk. We should use the time to address what it is going to be for manufacturers, for privateers, for media, for everyone – it’s going to be a challenging three or four or five years. Rather than constantly firefighting […] because things are changing, or working through potential scenarios, then it changes the following week, just bin the whole thing and let’s plan for a very difficult period to come.”

Beyond the current campaign, Clark also believes the economic aftereffects of the pandemic could also frustrate plans to introduce the new Rally 1 technical regulations. The new rules – planned to begin in 2022 – would see the introduction of a common hybrid drivetrains, as well as a standardised safety structure and a number of common parts.

However, with the collapse of car sales due to the pandemic, Clark believes that a rethink may be required. “We can’t go ahead with plans that were formulated before this virus and this crisis. I think any plans that were formulated, that were discussed, that were decided upon before the virus need to be reworked and looked at again, in particular, the 2022 regulations need to be considered again.

“Now is the time to do that. Now there’s plenty of time for people to virtually sit around the table and discuss, work out and address what are going to be enormously challenging times.”

For the full version of this interview, as well as conversations with Richard Millener of M-Sport and Rubens Barrichello – Formula One’s most experienced driver – come back for the next issue of World in Motorsport, to be published in July.

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia during Rally Mexico. © Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool