Telemetry and VSC issues catch out Grosjean

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-18.
© XPB 

Romain Grosjean was clearly unhappy to lose a position to Sergio Perez immediately after a late Virtual Safety Car period in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

The Haas driver had already been suffering from a complete telemetry failure on his car throughout the race, following what is understood to be a small oil fire on the VF-18.

The VSC is meant to neutralise the race and maintain the relative gaps of all the cars, while reducing speed so that marshalls can attend an incident on the track.

But Grosjean complained that this hadn't happened in Suzuka, and that the VSC system had instead allowed the Force India to close up and overtake him once the race went back to green flag conditions on lap 40.

"We need to analyse what happened with the Virtual Safety Car restart," the Haas driver said after the race. "I was right on my delta time and Perez, when the gap was 2.4 seconds before, overtook me straight away.

"We need to check and see if there is not a problem in the system there," he demanded, having finished the race in eighth place. "I thought I had done the job on my side. We did our best."

Grosjean revealed that he had been suffering additional problems with telemetry throughout in the race.

"We had a few technical issues on the car, which didn’t make our life easy," he said. "I think without those, we clearly had the pace to be in front of all those guys."

Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed the extent of the problems that the team had been faced with during the race.

"Grosjean had a few issues with the car, with the telemetry, and with the handling of it," he said.

"[From] the beginning we had no telemetry," he continued. "No tyre temperatures, nothing, because we had a fire because I think some oil came out and burnt all the wiring down."

Whether the issue with telemetry was responsible for Perez getting the jump on Grosjean after the VSC was not clear.

"Sometimes in virtual safety cars you can be in a better or worse position by the regulations because you have these mini sectors," Steiner suggested.

"There was nothing wrong with what Perez did, he was just on the case," he added. "He was good there, his tyres were too, he just had better traction there and out of the chicane just overtook him."

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-18.

In any case, the telemetry issues masked a bigger problem that Grosjean had with the car's handling for much of the race.

"The car was pulling on the straights," Steiner reported. "[But] we had no data on temperature, tyre pressure, a lot of others just missing.

"So when he said 'on the straights the car is pulling, I don't know which side', we thought he had maybe picked up a puncture from the debris from Magnussen. But he didn't so we continued.

Overall, Steiner said that considering all the issues, it was a relief that Grosjean had been able to hold on to a points-paying position this weekend.

His team mate Kevin Magnussen had retired from the race early with damage following a collision with Sauber's Charles Leclerc on the start-finish line.

"We are pretty happy to get away with points from here after seeing the issues we had," Steiner said. "If your car is on fire on lap one, that normally is not good!

"The good side is we closed the gap [in the constructors championship] to Renault by three points, and I hope we make the rest up in the next four races."

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