Romain Grosjean says the new flat-out Formula 1 is ‘back to where it should be’, judging by the impressions he took away from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Although the Haas driver did not make it to the finish in Melbourne, after stopping with an engine problem, the Frenchman has no doubts that the extra downforce and grip has delivered something that makes things a much bigger challenge for drivers.
“The 2017 cars are really cool to drive,” Grosjean told Motorsport.com.
“They are a lot of fun pushing hard and still finding the limit. Going into Turn 1 in Australia, I missed my braking point and at one point thought I would never make it. Then I went through the corner two tenths faster - interesting!
“For the next lap, you push to the limits. Turn 11/12, the back straight chicane, was pretty awesome getting a lot of Gs and feeling the grip of the car - so that was nice to drive. We need to see more in the race, I did only 15 laps, so need to feel in the race but generally the cars are really good.”
He added: “It is back to where F1 should be. More flat out and more pushing. There’s always room for a bit of improvement, but generally it is the fastest F1 car we have seen ever, which is pretty exciting.
“And you need to push the car. In Australia you could see the experienced drivers were at the front and the non-experienced were a bit more at the back, which shows they are now real cars.”
Although there remain concerns about how much harder overtaking will be with the new car, Grosjean thinks it would be wrong to react too early if races do become processional.
“We will see how China goes. There are some pretty fast corners, so there will be high Gs, but that is what we like," he explained.
“Overtaking is more tricky, especially on a track like Australia. China may be a different thing. The cars have much more drag, so it means in a straightline there is a good tow or good DRS. You can have a good chance.
“But we need to wait at least four or five grands prix before judging anything. If you react to Australia, which is the fourth most difficult grand prix to overtake in the year, then it doesn’t really make sense.”