SAKHIR, Bahrain — After a disastrous opening race in Australia in which both cars retired prematurely, Haas F1 Team has finally gotten their Formula One season on-track after back-to-back points-scoring finishes.
While Kevin Magnussen was the driver finding success a week ago in China, Sunday finally marked Frenchman Romain Grosjean’s time to shine after he delivered an eighth-place finish, matching Magnussen’s mark from Shanghai.
Grosjean qualified ninth and remained there consistently for much of the event, battling among the back half of the top 10 all race long.
After his final stop at the end of lap 32, where Grosjean swapped his supersoft tires for a fresh set of softs, he used the fresh rubber to overtake Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat for eighth after just six laps.
From there, Grosjean maintained and held position through to the checkered flag, deadlocking his teammate for 10th in the championship standings and doubling Haas’ points total for the year-to-date in the constructor’s race.
“It was a pretty good race. I made a decent start and my first stint was pretty good, but it was tough to stay behind the Renault (of Nico Hulkenberg). Then we had the bad luck with the safety car, as we’d pitted just before. I saw (Sergio) Perez come out and I thought, ‘How did he come out in front of me when he’d been 10 seconds behind?’ He gained 12 seconds with the safety car and that cost a position.”
“At the restart I struggled a little bit with the top speed. But, eventually, we made the right strategy call and pushed on the good laps with some great overtaking maneuvers. So, here we are in eighth. It’s good to be here scoring points.”
The strong Bahrain result was a continuation of Grosjean’s success at the Sakhir circuit from one year prior, in which he finished fifth to score Haas’ career-best F1 result in their 24-race history.
While Sunday’s effort wasn’t quite as strong, it still marked a strong turnaround and elicited a grin from the likable Grosjean after the race.
“We made the most of today. It wasn’t an easy weekend until qualifying … and then I was very proud of my lap in Q3. The race was a little bit of bad luck, like I said, but we got the maximum out of the car. It wasn’t our easiest weekend in terms of performance, but it’s good that we are unified and fighting with Renault and Force India … so we know there’s more to come.”
Magnussen never got the chance to vie for points on Sunday, with an electronics issue cutting his car’s power supply and forcing him into retirement after just eight laps.
Despite that disappointment, the second-generation driver was optimistic about the future for the second-year Formula One squad, which he joined prior to the start of 2017.
“It would’ve been a good race, had we not had the issue,” Magnussen said, looking at the positives of recent weeks. “I just look forward now and am happy with the car. It’s running in the points and qualifying in Q3. We’ve had three straight weekends where the car’s been in points positions. I’m looking forward to this continuing.”
How did team principal Gunther Steiner view Sunday’s action? With a simple, yet calculated answer.
“We know where we are,” Steiner said. “We were not strong enough (today) for Perez (Force India), but we were good enough to beat Hulkenberg (Renault). It’s a tight battle and, again, we got four points from here.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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