Haas F1 have gotten their first points in China. After predictions of a chaotic rain filled race the Chinese Grand Prix was would start damp with plenty of dry patches, starting all drivers but one Carlos Sainz on green intermediate tires which would create a forgettable start for the him. Romain Grosjean P17 and Kevin Magnussen P12 opted instead for the green P Zero intermediates. Two laps in after a decent strat for both cars, Lance Stroll was knocked out of the race by Sergio Perez bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Haas brought both drivers in, Magnussen in front, for Red supersofts. Track conditions remained wet though and another crash on the damp pit straight ended Antonio Giovinazzis forgettable weekend and brought a physical safety car.
Magnussen remained on track in P12 while Grosjean farther back and with less to lose pitted for Yellow softs and returned to track under full green in P17 behind the Renault of Jolyn Palmer. By lap 28 he had passed Palmer and several other cars to gain to P13 putting him one position behind his team mate Magnussen who returned from the pits from his final stop for new P Zero Red supersofts. Grosjean too made his final stop on lap 36 also for a set of Red supersofts and rejoined the track P13 again this time behind Nico Hulkenberg. He passed the German two laps later on lap 38 and to prove the Frenchman’s determination and pace Grosjean hunted down the Williams of Felipe Massa 15 laps later and took P11 from the experienced and on form driver cleanly around the slow turn 2 finishing him just outside of the points.
With a strong VF17 under him Magnussen was able to salvage the teams weekend with an exclamation point overtaking both Mercedes powered Force India cars. First Ocon on lap 40 then and catching Perez at the end of the long back straight for P8 where he finished giving himself and the team 4 points in the World Championship putting them 4 behind 6th place Williams who also had one car DNF. We now have one example (since we will not make any permanent conclusions here yet) that the Ferrari power of the VF17 and its chassis design is on par with if not outperforming the Mercedes power of the Williams and Force India.
It’s unfortunate Grosjean was not in a better position at the start and was so close to a double points finished for the team, but as he said after being forced to lift on the penultimate corner of his qualifying lap due to Giovinazzi’s crash “When it’s not your day, it’s not your day”. Haas F1 will go to Bahrain next, the sight of the team’s best ever finish of P5 with Romain Grosjean in 2016 for Formula 1’s first back to back weekend of the season. Haas are now in 7th in the Constructors Championship and the team need to focus all out on a double points finish for this weekend to remain close in the WCC with Williams and avoid being left behind by the rest of the midfield with the pointless Sauber, McLaren and Renault.