March 30, 2017
Haas F1 Team had a less than ideal day at Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix as both cars suffered retirements due to reliability issues but perhaps a weekend with a silver lining and lessons to be learned.
Romain Grosjean had qualified a team best 6th position for the race. After starting well holding off the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, Grosjean was running in 7th behind the Williams of Felipe Massa before a water leak finished his race on lap 13.
““I suddenly lost a lot of power. I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car. It’s a pretty disappointing result, but again, right now I’m hot and we’re all disappointed to lose a seventh-place position, but the car was there in qualifying in P6. The start wasn’t ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there’s huge potential in the car.”
Kevin Magnussen had a worse weekend, qualifying 17th after running wide at turn 12 of his flying lap. Contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson on the first lap gave him front wing damage putting him well behind the field after pitting and eventually retiring 11 laps short of the finish with suspension failure. Despite this, Magnussen seemed to take more positives from the Grand Prix.
“We changed the front wing and then I went for a long test session to feel the car and learn a bit more about it, which was good. It feels good and the car is fast. That’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there. We just have to make it finish and score points.”
Something to watch out for; the issue with Brembo brakes, the teams Achilles heel from last season. It was not an issue for the Australian Grand Prix but may pop up on circuits that are more brake critical. In pre-season testing Gunther Steiner said the team had already been evaluating alternatives and would be capable of switching suppliers during the season.
Coming away from the Australian Grand Prix, I’m cautiously excited. The VF17 is clearly very fast, enough to compete with the Williams and Force India perhaps but reliability problems need to be fixed immediatey to capitalize on early points before said teams and the McLarens and Renaults of the world with bigger budgets spend rapidly on R&D with no token program for 2017 to catch up.