Jul 31, 2016
Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean drove to hard-fought 11th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively, in the German Grand Prix Sunday at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg.
While the effort did not yield a point-paying result, it was still a strong showing from the American team as both drivers had to rally from deep within the 22-car field. Gutiérrez got bottlenecked at the start and dropped to 18th while Grosjean started the 67-race from 20th after incurring a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on Saturday.
The duo employed a two-stop strategy, but with differing tire selections. Gutiérrez started the race using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire and Grosjean started with the Red supersoft. Pit stops began on lap eight, but the Haas F1 Team drivers stayed on the 4.574-kilometer (2.842-mile), 17-turn circuit for as long as they could before making their first stops, allowing each to gain considerable track position.
Grosjean came in for his first stop at the end of lap 17 after climbing to eighth. Gutiérrez was the last driver to make his first stop, hitting pit lane at the end of lap 25 after rising to 12th. Grosjean went with a new set of Yellow softs while Gutiérrez switched to Red supersofts.
The pit cycle dropped each driver in the running order, but by the race’s halfway mark with other teams’ pit strategies playing out, the Haas F1 Team duo was running together, with Grosjean 12th and Gutiérrez 13th.
The team’s final round of pit stops began on lap 43 when Grosjean came in for a switch to Red supersofts. Gutiérrez followed at the end of lap 47, also taking Red supersofts.
While both drivers were a lap down after their pit cycles, they remained on the cusp of the top-10, with Gutiérrez 14th and Grosjean 15th with 16 laps remaining. Each driver made separate, masterful passes to get around the Renault of Kevin Magnussen, with Gutiérrez overtaking him on lap 52 and Grosjean doing the same on lap 55. The moves, along with Carlos Sainz Jr. bringing his Toro Rosso to pit lane for his final stop, allowed Gutiérrez and Grosjean to climb to 12th and 13th, respectively.
Opportunity still beckoned with three laps remaining as 10th-place Fernando Alonso began to fade after pushing his McLaren’s tires to their limit. Force India’s Sergio Perez picked him off for 10th and as Alonso continued to back up, Gutiérrez was able to nab 11th on the final lap. Time ran out before Grosjean could catch Alonso, preventing him from picking up an additional spot before the checkered flag fell.
Twelve rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. However, seventh-place McLaren widened the gap over the American team to 14 points via Jensen Button’s eighth-place finish. Haas F1 Team’s 22-point advantage over ninth-place Renault went unchanged as neither Magnussen nor Jolyon Palmer finished in the points.
Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix by 6.996 seconds over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. The victory extended Hamilton’s lead in the championship standings to 19 points over his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, a gain of 13 points. It was Hamilton’s 49th career Formula One victory, his sixth this season and fourth in a row. It was also his second win at the Hockenheimring, with his first coming in 2008 during his second Formula One season.
Nine races remain on the 2016 Formula One schedule, with the next event coming in three weeks with the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“It wasn’t too bad. I think we had a good pace, but the middle stint behind the Renault saw my brakes massively overheat, and I lost them completely for a few laps. That clearly put us on the back foot. I couldn’t get by, and that cost us having a shot at points. We need to understand that, but generally the car behaved in the race. I’m happier this afternoon than I was yesterday. Overall, it’s been an awesome first half of the season. I want us to be able to come back and score regularly in the top-10. There are a few things we need to unlock. We’ve got the potential in the car. We just need to put it all together."
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It wasn’t an easy start. I had too much wheel spin and I was passed by quite a few cars. We were the only ones on soft tires, which was an aggressive strategy, so we were expecting to struggle for the first stint. After that I started to hold as much as I could and then began to fight back in the second stint. I was pushing all the way, trying to recover as much as I could, as well as trying to handle fuel saving. We’re not satisfied where we ended up, as we didn’t get the points we were aiming for. Now we head into the summer break, which will be good for the team after four races in five weeks. We’re all going to recharge our batteries and come back stronger, fighting for points at Spa.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“In general, we had a good race, though Esteban had a bad start. We need to look into that, and do better there, because we finished 11th again, one position out of the points. We basically started 18th and 20th and not 11th and 20th. Romain went from 20th to 13th. There wasn’t a lot more to do there, and obviously Esteban finished 11th. The car showed the pace and we had no mistakes, but when you start in those positions, sometimes that’s the best you can achieve. We know the pace is there. We can do it, we just have to pull it all together and get it done. We’ve showed that we can do that, which is ultimately a positive for the team moving forward.”
The FIA Formula One World Championship heads into its three-week summer break before returning to action Aug. 26-28 for the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps. Round 13 of the Formula One schedule begins with practice Aug. 26, qualifying Aug. 27 and the race Aug. 28.