Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner says he understands Romain Grosjean's curiosity about how the returning Renault F1 team fares in 2016, but is satisfied the Frenchman is happy with his new role at Haas.
A former Renault protégé, Grosjean made his F1 debut with the French manufacturer back in 2008 as a mid-season replacement for Nelson Piquet Jr, but was dropped at the end of the year.
Going on to win the GP2 Series title in 2010, Grosjean returned to F1 in 2011 with the same Enstone-based team – now competing under the Lotus banner –, where he proceeded to revive his reputation with 11 podium finishes.
With Renault spending much of the 2015 season in discussions to purchase Lotus for a renewed full factory F1 effort in 2016, as the only French driver in F1, Grosjean was expected to head up the manufacturer's effort. However, with negotiations dragging on with no clear indication that Renault would follow through on its plans, Grosjean took control of his destiny and agreed to join the incoming Haas F1 Team instead.
With Renault eventually confirming its return, Grosjean – who has previously indicated his desire to lead a full factory team – admits he is keen to see how the firm fares this year. Nonetheless, Haas boss Steiner is satisfied that this is no indication of regrets on Grosjean's part.
“I think he mentioned enough times that he is happy to have joined Haas F1 Team, but by being French he for sure keeps an eye on the Renault team to see how they progress,” he told F1.com
With its much anticipated F1 debut now just two months away, Steiner remains confident that Haas can begin as a 'lower midfield' team from the off, but accepts its new rivals – including Toro Rosso with its year-old engine – will be tough to beat.
“We hope to line up somewhere in the lower midfield. It is always very difficult to predict how other teams will be doing before testing, but I think with Toro Rosso being a well-established team they should be in front of us, even with a one-year old engine.”