F1 competition ‘like Federer with ping-pong racket’ – Grosjean

Haas driver Romain Grosjean says he is “not so sure” Formula 1 qualifies as a sport, likening the competitive differences between the cars to “asking Roger Federer to go with a ping-pong racket to Roland Garros”.

Grosjean, who has started 164 grands prix over an 11-year span, has 10 podium finishes to his name and has led laps in seven races, coming close to a maiden win on occasions in 2012 and 2013.

But though the Haas team he joined in 2016 has had results that were perceived as it punching above its weight in F1, it has been nowhere near scoring a win since its arrival.

Asked ahead of the 2020 season whether at 33 he’d accepted that he’d likely retire without a race win, Grosjean said: “Could happen. I mean, I was already lucky to be 10 times on the podium. I should’ve won, I believe, two grands prix [Europe 2012 and Germany 2013], and things didn’t come my way.

“I think, we call Formula 1 a sport, is it a sport? I am not so sure. It’s a show, but a sport is supposed to be fair and Formula 1 is not fair.

“It’s very physical to drive a Formula 1 car, it’s hard, it’s demanding, it’s a lot of effort going [in] from everyone, but it’s like asking Roger Federer to go with a ping-pong racket to Roland Garros. He won’t have a chance.

“And would you call tennis a sport if they were not coming all with the same rackets, or if the court was wider on one side than it would be on the other side?”

Grosjean has pointed to Daniel Ricciardo’s 2019 campaign with Renault as a prime example illustrating his point.

“I mean, look at Daniel Ricciardo. If you only take his time at Renault, he hasn’t even scored a podium. But he’s been winning races [with Red Bull], he’s a great driver, and he’s been on the podiums. It all depends what you’ve got between your hands.”

Grosjean, a Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director, has repeatedly represented F1 drivers in the 2021 rule-making process, as F1 firmed up the future regulations aimed at closing up the pack.

He himself is out of contract for 2021 however, but indicates he hasn’t given up hope of adding to his trophy cabinet after the rules’ overhaul.

“Yeah, could well happen that I won’t win a grand prix. I will do my best to get some opportunities in the future, there’s obviously a lot of drivers out of contract at the end of the year, there could be drivers also retiring.

“I think that [retirement] is a decision that, I believe for me it will come quite quickly, if I see maybe [after] half-season or three-quarters of a season that I don’t have that very passion anymore, that I don’t really want to be travelling the world and being far away from my family, then I could see me retiring and going somewhere else.

“It could happen to other drivers [too], there could be opportunities, you never know.”

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