1 Oct 2015

Grosjean to drive for Haas

11:58 am on 1 October 2015

France's Romain Grosjean is leaving Lotus at the end of the season to become 'lead driver' at the new US.-owned Haas Formula One team in 2016.

French F1 driver Romain Grosjean

French F1 driver Romain Grosjean Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Team founder and chairman Gene Haas, who is also co-owner of the successful Stewart-Haas NASCAR outfit, presented a smiling Grosjean at a news conference at their Kannapolis headquarters in North Carolina.

Ferrari-powered Haas, who have a close technical partnership with Maranello, are the first US-owned entrants in Formula One since 1986.

"He's going to have a lot of work to do, he's going to be our lead driver and we are going to depend heavily on him to help us with our strategies with the car, with the racetracks and learning the whole operations of an F1 team," Haas told reporters.

Grosjean said he had been interested in the Haas project from the outset and liked the fact that they were taking a different approach to other new teams in the past.

"I think it's an approach that can be pretty quickly successful," added the Frenchman.

"I like the idea, this partnership with Ferrari, I like the way everything has been going, I like the fact that it's going slowly but nicely and I'm very happy that I made that decision."

Grosjean, 29, has 10 podium finishes from 78 grands prix after starting his career with Renault - Lotus's predecessors who are in the process of buying back that financially struggling team - in 2009.

Most recently, he was third in Belgium last month.

The Ferrari connection will have been the clincher for the Frenchman however, with the Italian team likely to be looking for a replacement for Finland's Kimi Raikkonen at the end of next season.

Being at Haas, who are expected to announce Ferrari's Mexican reserve Esteban Gutierrez as their second race driver, will give Grosjean plenty of scope to show what he can do.

"We should be able to run straight away without having the problems of a new team," he said. "I think it will be really good to score a few points early in the season for a newcomer American team.

"I have spent 10 years in Enstone (the Lotus factory), I know the guys very well and it would have been easy and comfortable to stay," he added.

"On the other hand, I want to try to win races and championships and I thought that coming here to Haas was a good step and a good direction to achieve that."

Haas said there had been pressure to sign an American driver but, with Alex Rossi only this month becoming the first US racer in Formula One since 2007, the team needed someone more experienced.

"The reality was that a rookie driver with a rookie team just isn't a good fit," he said. "The primary purpose here is to show that as an American manufacturer we can compete in the most difficult competitive series in car racing in the world."

- Reuters

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