Event: Russian Grand Prix (Round 4 of 21)
Date: Sunday, May 1
Location: Sochi Autodrom
Layout: 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit
Weather: Partly Sunny, 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit)
Race Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes
Haas F1 Team: Romain Grosjean – Started 15th, Finished 8th (Running, completed 53/53 laps)
Esteban Gutiérrez – Started 16th, Finished 17th (Running, completed 52/53 laps)
On a gorgeous day at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean drove his VF-16 to a strong eighth-place finish in the Russian Grand Prix Sunday at the Sochi Autodrom. It was Grosjean’s third point-scoring result in the four races held this year, allowing him to climb one spot in the championship standings to seventh.
Grosjean earned his 38th career top-10 finish and his sixth top-10 in the last seven races via a one-stop strategy. After successfully navigating the first-lap, second-turn chaos that allowed him to advance from his 15th -place starting spot to eighth, Grosjean pitted on lap 17. Off came the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires and on went the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires. Grosjean made this set last for the remaining 36 laps around the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit, as the track’s ultra-smooth surface allowed Grosjean to push without limitation. This was important, as Grosjean had to hold off the Force India of Sergio Perez, who finished ninth after being a constant presence in Grosjean’s mirrors.
Grosjean’s performance at Sochi, along with his efforts at the Formula One season-opener in Australia and the year’s second race in Bahrain where he finished sixth and fifth, respectively, means that Haas F1 Team – the first American Formula One team in 30 years – has scored more point-paying finishes than any all-new program in this millennium. When Jaguar debuted in 2000 and when Toyota came on the scene in 2002, each entity managed only two point-paying finishes in their entire first seasons. Haas F1 Team has scored three-point paying finishes four races into its debut season, and the organization has 17 more races to collect additional points. The Russian Grand Prix solidified Haas F1 Team’s fifth-place position in the constructor standings, where it is 29 points behind fourth-place Williams and five points ahead of sixth-place Toro Rosso.
Esteban Gutiérrez, Grosjean’s teammate at Haas F1 Team, finished 17th
after bringing his VF-16 home for the second straight race. Gutiérrez had to overcome an early pit stop for a new front wing, as he was caught up in the first lap, second-turn skirmish that involved a handful of drivers. The chain-reaction incident saw Gutiérrez get into the back of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India.
Compounding the problem was the stewards’ decision to impose a drive-through penalty, which Gutiérrez served on lap nine.
Winning the Russian Grand Prix was Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver remains undefeated this season, and his winning streak goes back to last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, giving him seven straight victories. It has put Rosberg in elite company, as only Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel are the other drivers to score seven consecutive wins. The triumph also increased Rosberg’s lead in the championship standings to 43 points over teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“It’s great to be back in the points, especially after a very difficult weekend where we were never very happy with the car. It was a good first lap to avoid all the incidents, and then I kept (Sergio) Perez behind. There are still so many things we can improve on the car. I’m still not a hundred percent happy with the behavior. I think for the next race it’s going to be so much better. It’s very positive knowing that we have something that will become better.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It was a tough race from the beginning. It was definitely not a nice start. I arrived at the first corner with a lot of space in front and I braked but, unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the car and I ran into Nico (Hulkenberg). It’s a shame not only for me but for him, as well. I tried to do my best to recover the race but, obviously, we got the penalty and lost a lot of track time. However, I pushed until the end and we managed to finish the race, which was a good thing. We now need to focus on the next race in Barcelona.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“A fantastic result for the team being in the points. After the last two days of testing and qualifying, we didn’t expect to finish eighth. However, we were always aiming for the points and we pulled it off again. A big thanks to everyone for a great team effort. Obviously, it was very unfortunate for Esteban after his incident at the start, but he will get back from this and hopefully he’ll be in the points soon. It was a great race from Romain to keep his position, fighting left, right and center. It makes F1 interesting. It was a great race.”
Round 5 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Practice begins May 13, qualifying takes place May 14 and the race runs May 15.