The Haas F1 Team who made their Grand Prix debut in Melbourne’s Albert Park on Sunday proved all the doubters wrong, not only did the American outfit make it to Australia but they scored points thanks to a fantastic strategy call.
Romain Grosjean who started the race from 18th place due to the fact that Daniil Kvyat didn’t race drove brilliantly and used the red flag brought out by the accident between his team mate Esteban Gutierrez and Fernando Alonso to good affect as the Frenchman but fresh rubber on the VF16 and ended up finishing the race in sixth place.
Grosjean was on the pace throughout the Grand Prix and speaking to his engineer following the race, the Frenchman told his race race engineer that the result felt like a win.
A very good day at the office. This feels like a win. For all the guys who worked so hard over the last few weeks, this is unbelievable. We were unlucky yesterday, but got a bit lucky today with the red flag. Still, we were able to hold off the Williams (Valtteri Bottas) and the Force India (Hulkenberg). We didn’t have much set-up (time) on the car. It was a case of, off you go and see what happens. This is an unbelievable feeling. The guys did an amazing job and I told them, this is like a win for all of us. First race and here we are, P6. A happy day.
Grosjean’s team mate Esteban Gutierrez walked away from his accident unhurt and speaking following the race, the Mexican commented by saying:
It’s not the race I was hoping for. However, the most important thing is that Fernando and I are both OK. The car was handling well and the results show we can be very competitive. Romain did a great job for the team. To achieve points in our first race is fantastic. I’m now looking ahead and focusing on Bahrain. I can’t wait to get back out racing.
Gene Haas whose vision of an American Formula One team received skepticism has been vindicated and speaking following the race he commented by saying:
A lot of people have contributed to this, so we have to thank all the people, starting with Guenther Steiner (team principal) who put all this together and kept pushing me to go out and try this. The Ferrari people have been excellent. They’ve helped us a lot. Dallara helped us build the chassis. We’ve got a great sponsor in Haas Automation. It’s all great.
“There’s a new F1 team on the block and it’s an American F1 team, so we’re real proud of that. But these other teams are pretty dang good at what they do. I wouldn’t sit here and say we’re going to be in front of them all the time, but today was a good day.
“Obviously, the chassis, aero, engine – they all work. That’s what’s really important. That’s why we took the extra year to work on that. The car is a very stable platform. We’ve kind of known that since (testing in) Barcelona. There’s been a lot of little gremlins and technical issues, but I think the fundamental chassis will be awesome for us.
“Grosjean had a heck of a challenge there. They made the decision to go on the mediums for 39 laps, so that was really pushing it. He basically didn’t chew up his tires initially, so he was able to get 39 laps out of them. I think near the end he was starting to pick up time on the person behind him. Tire strategy, saving your tires, those are the kinds of things that make a driver a legend.
“Grosjean just drove his heart out and did everything he could to keep it up there and it worked out. When (Nico) Hulkenberg was behind him I thought he might catch him, but he held him off and we actually started to make some time. He was saving fuel near the end, so I think once we got to the last few laps and we started to push a little harder, the car really responded.
“This is racing. It’s what we do for a living and, you know, it’s cool. But I’ll tell you, there’ll be some bad days too, so we’ll enjoy this one.
Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner commented on the race by saying:
First, the good thing is that Esteban and Fernando were not injured. It was unfortunate for our results, but I think a sixth-place finish makes up for it, and I’m sure Esteban will come back strong in Bahrain. Romain and the team did a great job and a big thanks goes to everyone for working so hard in the months leading up to our first race. Yesterday I said I was looking forward to the race, but to finish it in the points is a dream come true. Now we move forward and on to Bahrain.