After back to back races that were certainly the worst in the short history of Haas F1, the team has to be glad to see southeast Asia in their proverbial VF-16 rearview mirrors.
Romain Grosjean experienced mechanical problems in FP1 in Singapore and never turned a timed lap, then spun and crashed in FP2 damaging the rear wing and suspension, necessitating a gearbox change which would cost him 5 spots on the starting grid. His woes continued in Q2 as he spun near the end and backed his VF-16 into the wall, bringing out a virtual safety car that slowed teammate Esteban Gutiérrez on a fast lap, possibly preventing him from advancing to Q3.
Both drivers finished with disappointing qualifying runs; Gutiérrez in P14 and Grosjean one spot behind in P15.
Race day was not much better especially for the Frenchman as brake-by-wire issue prevented him from even making it to the starting grid.
Gutiérrez drove a steady methodical race, making up 3 spots to claim his fifth eleventh place finish of the season.
Haas F1 Team managed to remain eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. Seventh-place Toro Rosso increased its margin over the American squad to 19 points as Daniil Kvyat finished ninth, while ninth-place Renault cut the gap on Haas F1 Team to 21 points as Kevin Magnussen finished 10th.
Hopes were higher last weekend in Malaysia at Sepang circuit as Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez were set to test a new front wing that was fitted to each of their Haas VF-16s.
Grosjean was P13 in FP1, Gutiérrez P14, but in the heat of FP2 Grosjean could only manage P20 while Gutiérrez once again ran P14.
For the 11th straight time in qualifying, both Haas F1 Team drivers advanced to Q2. The two drivers utilized the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire throughout qualifying on Saturday. Grosjean wound up 12th fastest with a lap of 1:35.001 and Gutiérrez followed in 13th with a lap of 1:35.097.
However the race would prove even more frustrating than Singapore for Haas F1 Team, as drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean suffered double DNFs (Did Not Finish).
Gutiérrez started 13th in the 22-car field but sustained a punctured right-rear tire in the aftermath of the opening-lap skirmish between the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and championship leader Nico Rosberg. After limping his way back to the pits he rejoined in P20.
Running 10th with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. less than a second behind, Grosjean set his sights on holding the position and earning another point-paying finish for Haas F1 Team. On lap nine, those aspirations quickly went away.
As Grosjean applied the brakes to slow his Haas VF-16 after shooting down the long straight into the hairpin turn 15, his pedal went to the floor. The car twitched side-to-side and the wheels eventually locked, sending Grosjean off track and deep into the gravel trap. He emerged from his car unhurt but deeply unsatisfied.
Things went from bad to worse on lap 41 when Gutiérrez lost his left-front wheel on the short straight leading into turn nine. Gutiérrez deftly steered his three-wheeled Haas VF-16 to a safe area well off the racing surface. After climbing from his car, he joined his teammate back in the paddock.
Gutiérrez posted a 19th place finish, Grosjean ended up in P20.
Sixteen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. The American squad maintained the 19-point gap to seventh-place Toro Rosso while ninth-place Renault cut Haas F1 Team’s margin to 20 points as Jolyon Palmer finished 10th.
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal
“After we saw light at the end of the tunnel yesterday after qualifying, where I think we did a pretty good job, it got dark again today. We don’t really know yet what happened with both of the cars. One had a brake failure and the other, obviously, lost a wheel. We’ll have to see what exactly failed with the brakes on Romain’s car. We lost a wheel on Esteban’s car, but we’re not sure yet why. The pit stop seemed to be ok and he got going. We need to see if a mechanical part failed or if it wasn’t tight, but we don’t know yet. Obviously, we’re moving on to Japan. We’ll try to put ourselves in a better position again there.”
Next up, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit this weekend.
Image courtesy of Haas F1 Media
Eric Barnes @ebarnes442