So Close…Again. Haas F1 Italian GP Review

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 04 September 2016.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
ref: Digital Image _31I9585

Haas F1 Team just missed a point-scoring result in the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza with drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finishing 11th and 13th, respectively.

Grosjean overcame a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change that turned his 12th-place qualifying effort into a 17th-place starting spot. Despite the setback, Grosjean made the most of his start, rallying to 13th after the first lap. He then passed the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein on lap two to take 12th. From there, Grosjean settled in for a long haul, at least by Formula One standards. He was the last driver to pit, going 28 laps before swapping the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires he used to start the race for a set of Red supersofts, a questionable tire choice considering the amount of racing that remained. Grosjean somehow managed those tires for the next 25 laps, with his one-stop strategy allowing him to finish 11th even while holding off the surging McLaren of Jenson Button in the closing laps.

Optimism was high that Gutiérrez would score his first points of the season as he began the race in 10th place thanks to a strong qualifying performance on Saturday. It was rendered moot, however, when wheel spin produced a terrible start and Esteban saw the field scream around him before the first chicane, dropping him all the way to 20th. Gutiérrez recovered a bit to climb to 18th by lap seven. By lap 24, he had climbed to 15th. He made his second and final stop at the end of lap 34, grabbing a used set of Red supersofts that helped him finish 13th.

Fourteen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. There was no movement on either side of the American squad, as seventh-place Toro Rosso and ninth-place Renault failed to score points in the Italian Grand Prix. Toro Rosso’s margin over Haas F1 Team is 17 points and Renault is 22 points back.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the Italian Grand Prix by a stout 15.070 seconds over his teammate Lewis Hamilton, further tightening the championship battle.

Seven races remain on the 2016 Formula One schedule, with the next event coming in two weeks with the Singapore Grand Prix Sept. 18 at Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Romain Grosjean – Driver #8
“To be fair, I think we were just lacking a little bit of speed in the race to make the points. We tried a very aggressive one-stop strategy. I had a bit of graining on the softs in the first stint through those last few laps. That cost us a few seconds, but I don’t think I could have gotten the 12 seconds needed to get to P10 in the end. That was about the maximum today. We just need to learn what we can do better for the next race. I’m now looking ahead to Singapore. It’s one of the best races of the season.”

Esteban Gutiérrez – Driver #21
“It was a very disappointing start to the race losing a lot of positions. It was very tough to recover, but I did my best. I struggled in the first stint with the overall pace, starting with the scrubbed tires from qualifying and fighting with people which were on new tires. It wasn’t very easy, but we kept ourselves together and pushed really hard to recover everything we could, but what we lost in the beginning was too much to get back to where we started. Now we’ll look ahead to Singapore and we’ll be focusing on that to come back stronger.

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal
“Here we go again with an 11th- and a 13th-place finish. I think once we got going, it was a pretty good race. If you take off the first 20 seconds of it, we could have been in a different position with Esteban. He missed the start, and that put him back, but he recovered to finish 13th. Romain came from 17th to 11th with a good strategy and good driving and, overall, it was a good effort. Unfortunately, none of the big boys dropped out, so we ended up 11th again. We showed that we have some speed at this kind of track. Hopefully, we can bring that forward to some of the upcoming tracks we visit. Being ahead and fighting with McLaren is something we can be proud of. McLaren is a team that’s been around a long time, and we’re the newcomers. Fighting with them and racing with drivers of the caliber of Button and Alonso makes us proud. But, we still haven’t got any points from today.”

Image courtesy of Haas F1 Media

Eric Barnes @ebarnes442

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