The Haas F1 team has made good progress in the first round of pre-season testing, according to team principal Gunther Steiner.
The team’s second-ever F1 car, the VF-17, made its track debut on Monday at the hands of new recruit Kevin Magnussen, who recorded the fourth fastest time of the day at a little over a second behind Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark 1:21.765s.
His programme was hampered by a return of the brake troubles that plagued Haas in 2016, but Magnussen insisted the interruptions were just “typical baby problems”, and added that his first taste of the team’s 2017 challenger was an experience he “enjoyed a lot”.
Returning to the wheel on the following day, the Dane on supersofts lowered his best lap time to 1:22.204s, once again enough for fourth on the timesheets. This was set en route to amassing a total of 118 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya—the most of any driver.
Romain Grosjean then took charge of the VF-17 for the remaining two days. As with Magnussen, Grosjean’s first session on track was disrupted by a series of electrical and setup issues, and he ended Wednesday with just 56 laps under his belt.
But on the final day of testing, the Frenchman was able to match his teammate’s Tuesday best by finishing fourth fastest on a 1:22.309s and at the top of the lap count.
At the conclusion of the week’s sessions, team principal Gunther Steiner remarked upon the progress Haas has made since last year and distance the VF-17 was able to cover in Barcelona: “Compared with last year, [reliability has] been a lot better. We know a lot more about the car than we did four days ago. Now we can make the next step and hone it out, make it better.”
Steiner also praised the work of partner Ferrari, hailing the “fantastic job” done by the Scuderia on its 2017 power unit.
Haas returns for the second week of pre-season testing on Tuesday, with Magnussen driving on days one and three, and Grosjean on days two and four.
James Matthews, Editor-at-Large
Images courtesy of Haas F1 Team