Don’t call him ‘Brakes’ Grosjean, he has a plan

He certainly wouldn’t want to be remembered as “Good ol’Brakes Grosjean” or “Romain “Brakes” Grosjean” but with the focus for the last 18 months on his performance issues during grands prix always centered on his struggle with the brakes, it may be a hard moniker to shake but that’s exactly why he now refusing to talk about it.

“I don’t want to speak about brakes anymore.

“I just need to be better in those conditions and improve myself.

“There are things behind the scenes but I’m not blaming anything.

“The brake feeling has been terrible all weekend long but Kevin’s got the same comment and he can drive around [it], that’s why I’m saying I don’t want to blame anything.

“Braking is my strength, since Formula Renault. But when things are not working as I want, it’s my biggest weakness.

“When it’s not good, then I’m lost. I admit it and I need to work on that and I’m sure I can get better.”

When teamed with Esteban Gutierrez, it wasn’t discussed that much and taken as writ that Haas F1 has a serious brake issue but now teamed with Kevin Magnussen who seems far less hobbled by the system, the focus has become Romain and not the brake issue. In fact, some fans are wondering if the brake issue is real an issue?

Let’s be for to Romain here, there is an issue and even Kevin says so per an article at Autosport.

“Brakes is the most important thing that you need to have working because it takes away a lot of confidence if you don’t know what’s going to happen if you push the brakes.

“So it’s not a good situation but it’s something that’s a little bit out of our hands.

“There’s not much we can do about it, it’s one of those things, it’s like complaining about the weather.

“There’s not anything you can do about it, you just have to deal with it.”

What we discussed on our recent race review podcast, however, is that a driver will need to adapt his style to the car if the car cannot be cured of its issue and perhaps this is where Romain is struggling more than Kevin. Having had a very high-performance braking style in junior series with no brake-by-wire system may have been one of his calling cards but in the Haas car, it simply isn’t capable of being managed the same way.

Therefore, a driver will have to change his style and that may be asking a lot when you are some entrenched in a braking method. However, Romain says that is exactly what he is going to have to do and instead of demanding the car allow him to brake late and hard, he’ll have to find other ways around it like Kevin has.

“When the brake feeling is terrible, I need to find a way that I can work with it,” he said.

“When I cannot brake very late, very hard and turn the car with the brakes, then I just need to find more tools.”

Speaking with Paul in the Podcast, you’ll recall that it is always as easy as just saying it, it takes serious mental changes but you’ll also know that is a hallmark of a professional driver, to change his style to meet the car’s personality and get the most out of it. Think of Fernando Alonso’s style change from the early days to now. His approach to corners and steering input have changed on turn-in and this is to accommodate the new cars from 2014 onward.

Lewis Hamilton has done a great job of becoming a much more sympathetic driver to these new cars and the car and tire sympathy needed to make the car go fast around a track. While there have been suggestions that Mercedes have done some very creative brake system work that feel more natural and drivable, he still has to make the adjustment which he’s done with much aplomb.

Romain is a professional driver and I think he’ll get on top of it. Perhaps, for the past 18 months, he felt this was a Haas issue to fix—they did try different brake systems—but now he may have mentally taken a full inventory and realized that it is up to him to make the change. The car is what it is.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Salvu Borg

Sometimes the only way around a problem is for the driver to “adapt” that is true, have seen problems many times solved by the driver “adapting to the system in use. Just two examples. Barricello was one of the last drivers to have adapted to left foot braking, his team supplied him with a car with three pedals (his was the only car on the grid with three pedals). HE DID ADAPT BUT ONLY WHEN HE COULDN’T KEEP PACE WITH OTHERS. Raikkonen, I remember Lotus/Renault manufacturing no less than half a dozen different steering racks for him, he did adapt,… Read more »


It would be interesting to hear from some of the other drivers, and engineers, about the performance and feel of the current brake systems. I’ve seen previously that the pedal pressure is 60 to 80kg, and there is no movement in the pedal. So I find it amazing that while being battered around, and subject to rapidly varying g force loads, the drivers can have feel for what the brakes are doing, or any fine control over the brakes. So in my mind, Grosjean’s problem should be the norm, and the fact that the rest of the field can actually… Read more »

Salvu Borg

If a brake pedal will have no movement the brakes will have no feel. a brake pedal or any brake device for that matter will need have some so called “SPRING” to it, if not there will be no feel. The formula one brake pedal will normally have between 10 and 20 mm of travel, and that includes what is called “the free movement/clearance”. Brake pedal pressure/load that a formula one driver have to apply by his foot according to Brembo is normally between 85 and 105kg. The so called “brake pedal stiffness (load)” is set-up according to driver preference,… Read more »


I’ve been reading up about F1 brake systems, and still haven’t seen anything about pedal travel, but I agree I’d expect there to be some travel to help the driver gauge their input. There is some great information out there on the brake systems and the brake by wire controls that aim to keep pedal feel the same whether the rear brake effort is charging the ERS or from the rear brakes. Fantastic stuff. The skill of the drivers still impresses me. I don’t know about you but when I’m doing leg presses at the gym, there’s no fine control… Read more »