May 15, 2016
Haas F1 Team just missed a point-scoring result Sunday in the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. Esteban Gutiérrez drove his VF-16 from 18th-place on the grid to finish 11th, one spot out of the points. His teammate, Romain Grosjean, endured a difficult race, as he was forced to retire with brake problems 10 laps short of the checkered flag.
Gutiérrez’s 11th-place effort was his best of the season. Utilizing a two-stop strategy, Gutiérrez began the 66-lap race around the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn circuit on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire. He pitted on lap 15 for another set of softs and after pit stops had cycled through, was up to 15th.
A spirited drive and the attrition of others allowed Gutiérrez to climb to 10th by the time of his final pit stop on lap 31, where he took on Pirelli P Zero white medium tires.
As others pitted, Gutiérrez climbed to eighth with 20 laps remaining, but those on fresher tires began to reel him in. Still, Gutiérrez remained eighth with 10 laps to go, and the prospect of a point-paying finish was very much in sight. Unfortunately, the Williams of Felipe Massa caught Gutiérrez with eight laps to go, then the McLaren of Jensen Button dropped Gutiérrez to 10th with six laps to go, and on the penultimate lap, the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat took the final point-paying spot, leaving Gutiérrez 11th.
Grosjean, meanwhile, sustained a broken front wing that needed to be replaced on lap 38, which jettisoned him from 12th to 18th, one lap down. Then on lap 57, Grosjean keyed the radio saying he had no more brakes. This being a safety issue, Grosjean brought the car to the garage. It was his first retirement of 2016 and his first since the United States Grand Prix last October, a span of eight races.
The collective finish dropped Haas F1 Team to sixth in the constructor standings, as Toro Rosso leapfrogged the team via Carlos Sainz Jr.’s sixth-place effort and Kvyat’s 10th-place result. Haas F1 Team is now four points behind fifth-place Toro Rosso and eight points ahead of seventh-place Force India.
Winning the Spanish Grand Prix was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. It was his first Formula One victory, and at age 18 he becomes the series’ youngest race winner, as well as the youngest race leader, youngest points scorer and youngest to be on the podium. Verstappen earned the accolades, starting fourth and beating 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen to the stripe by .616 of a second.
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It was a very tricky weekend for us, which started with a few problems in FP2 (Free Practice 2) on Friday. However, the team did a great job in recovering. In the race, I was doing my best from the beginning to the end. I think we could have done a bit better with the tires – maybe taken a bit of a longer stint with the softs as toward the end of the race I just ran out of tires. However, it was really enjoyable out there and I had some great battles throughout. Today wasn’t straightforward for us to finish in the points, but we’re finding more consistency in the car, which will give us more opportunity to go forward.”
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“I had a very good start, a very good first lap. I managed to get into the top-10 and was fighting there. Then my front wing decided to go, for some reason. We came back to the pits, fitted a new nose, got some tires, but then the brakes went. The car wasn’t having a good day. We really need to find out what’s going on because we reverted back on most of the setup, and we’re still very much struggling with the balance. Testing this week is going to be very important for us.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“It was a very eventful race for us with both our drivers. We had a problem with the front wing for Romain. We changed it, obviously, but then we had to retire him as he had a brake issue. Esteban did a good job. I think in the end he ran out of tires. There was no grip anymore – they’d gone off the cliff. He fought the whole race. We got him to 11th – almost a point – but we just didn’t get it. It shows we are there when we need to be there. All in all, it was our most difficult race and our most eventful race of the year. It’s part of the game. It doesn’t always go perfectly.”