Three races into the 2019 season, Romain Grosjean is one of five drivers yet to score any points in the drivers championship. That's particularly surprising given that he's qualified inside the top ten in Melbourne, Bahrain and Shanghai.
But while Haas have shone in qualifying on Saturdays, the team has had a tendency to go backward once the lights go out and the racing starts on Sunday.
"The car is fast in qualifying and we know it, so that’s how we’ve managed to go through to Q3," Grosjean said this week. "That’s why we’ve made it into the top ten each Saturday this season.
"But when we go into the race, we’re losing the grip and things become a bit more complicated," he continued. "We have good grip in qualifying. On new tyres, the car is amazing."
Grosjean explained that the team was investigating why that grip simply isn't there for the race itself, and believes that the tyres are at the heart of the issue.
“The grip is going," he reported. "That’s the problem we’re facing at the moment. It’s probably coming from the way we use the tyres. We haven’t managed to get on top of it yet. That’s our number one priority for the next few races."
Grosjean speculated that the VF-19 was struggling to 'turn on' the tyres in the race by getting them into the right operating temperature to extract the most in terms of performance.
“That’s what we’re trying to find out," he confirmed. "The window may have moved, or the operating of the tires may be a bit different with the thinner treads.
"Obviously the chassis is good, otherwise we wouldn’t be so fast in qualifying," he pointed out. "We wouldn’t be so fast over one lap.
"We need to understand the tyres a bit more, and where the window is and how we get there. That’s the next task for the engineers."
The drop-off in pace in the last race in Shanghai meant he once again missed out on points when he crossed the line in 11th place.
“I think without the blue flags at the end we’d have scored a point," he suggested. "It’s so annoying to give it all, push hard, and just not get the chance to score points.”
Grosjean heads into next weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku concerned that the street circuit and cooler temperatures might not be a help to Haas getting on top of their tyre headaches.
"We need to work really hard before Baku to try to understand how to get the tyres to work. That’s really going to be the key for us there.
"Australia was very warm, we managed to get the tires to work well, [but] Baku is a different circuit. It’s probably closer to China.
“Overtaking in Baku has always been good," he added, looking on the bright side of the challenge awaiting him. "The straight line is so long that you get a massive tow, a massive slipstream, which is always good.
"It’s probably a racetrack that is much more fun in the race than in qualifying. In qualifying, you’re dealing with those 90-degree corners, it’s not as good as some other places.
"The race is always very exciting. It’s probably one of those circuits, along with Monza, where the new aero package won’t have much impact. Racing has always been good there, so there wasn’t a big need for changes.
"Let’s see how we get on."