Motorsport 1 year ago

F1: Disappointing weekend for Haas

The Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday at Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur proved to be a frustrating endeavor for Haas F1 Team as drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean suffered double DNFs (Did Not Finish).

Gutiérrez started 13th in the 22-car field but sustained a punctured right-rear tire in the aftermath of the opening-lap skirmish between the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and championship leader Nico Rosberg. The contact spun Rosberg’s Mercedes around and sent bits of carbon fiber flying.

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The tire on Gutiérrez’s Haas VF-16 was nothing but a carcass as he limped back to the garage area for service while the track was under a VSC (Virtual Safety Car) period. A used set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires went on and Gutiérrez returned to the 56-lap race around the 5.543-kilometer (3.444-mile), 15-turn circuit mired way back in 20th.

Grosjean, meanwhile, took advantage of the dustup between Vettel and Rosberg to pick up three positions, advancing from his 12th-place starting spot to run ninth. And when the VSC period ended, Grosjean engaged in a spirited battle with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Grosjean held off the two-time Formula One champion for a number of laps before Alonso passed Grosjean for ninth on lap six.

Running 10th with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. less than a second behind, Grosjean set his sights on holding the position and earning another point-paying finish for Haas F1 Team. On lap nine, those aspirations quickly went away.

As Grosjean applied the brakes to slow his Haas VF-16 after shooting down the long straight into the hairpin turn 15, his pedal went to the floor. The car twitched side-to-side and the wheels eventually locked, sending Grosjean off track and deep into the gravel trap. He emerged from his car unhurt but deeply unsatisfied.

“There was a brake failure,” Grosjean said. “We really don’t know what yet, but the pedal just went straight to the floor and I had to avoid the car in front of me. Our data didn’t suggest anything beforehand. It’s a shame. We did a really good first lap and we were looking at points running inside the top-10.”

“Things just didn’t go very well. I was racing with Fernando (Alonso). He had power, so it was very difficult to keep him behind. I was then just trying to follow his pace. The plan was to try to keep the tires alive for quite a while. We just didn’t get to that point, though.”

Things went from bad to worse on lap 41 when Gutiérrez lost his left-front wheel on the short straight leading into turn nine. Gutiérrez deftly steered his three-wheeled Haas VF-16 to a safe area well off the racing surface. After climbing from his car, he joined his teammate back in the paddock.

“Today we had a fantastic start. It was pretty good up to the first corner when, unfortunately, I got a puncture in my rear-right tire from Kevin (Magnussen) touching behind,” Estaban said. “I then had to come back to the pits"

"The floor was damaged and when I went back out on track I was fighting a lot, pushing to make up places, but the car wasn’t easy to drive. We had to retire after my second pit stop as we had a mechanical failure. Overall, a pretty disappointing weekend, but we have to keep our focus and keep the rhythm as we head to Japan.”.

Sixteen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. The American squad maintained the 19-point gap to seventh-place Toro Rosso while ninth-place Renault cut Haas F1 Team’s margin to 20 points as Jolyon Palmer finished 10th.

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