Sep 18, 2016
Esteban Gutiérrez was Haas F1 Team’s lone representative in the Singapore Grand Prix Sunday night at Marina Bay Street Circuit as teammate Romain Grosjean was unable to start the 61-lap race around the 5.065-kilometer (3.147-mile), 23-turn circuit due to an issue with his brake-by-wire system.
Gutiérrez carried the flag for Haas F1 Team from 13th in the 21-driver field. Shod on a set of Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires, Gutiérrez successfully navigated the chaotic start that sent the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg hard into the inside wall after contact with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. Gutiérrez stayed out during the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period and when the race returned to green-flag conditions, he was 12th, pushing Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in 11th.
As green-flag pit stops began to cycle through, Gutiérrez rose to as high as fifth before pitting at the end of lap 19 for a used set of Purple ultrasofts. The stop put Gutiérrez back in 13th, whereupon he set his sights on Sainz ahead in 12th.
As another set of pit stops cycled through, Gutiérrez briefly cracked the top-10 on lap 29 and stayed there until lap 33 when the Red Bull of Max Verstappen passed and dropped him to 11th.
Gutiérrez’s final pit stop came at the end of lap 36, shortly after Williams driver Felipe Massa took over 11th. Off went the Purple ultrasofts and on went a used set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires that would carry Gutiérrez to the finish.
The scheduled stop placed Gutiérrez back in 13th with 25 laps remaining, with Sainz again ahead of him by a little more than nine seconds. Gutiérrez methodically began reeling Sainz in, cutting the gap to less than a second by lap 47. Sainz made his final pit stop on lap 48 and, combined with Massa also pitting, pushed Gutiérrez to 11th with 13 laps to go. Gutiérrez held the spot to the end to collect his fifth 11th-place result of the season.
Beyond the race winner, the person happiest to see the checkered flag drop on the Singapore Grand Prix was Grosjean. It was an incredibly frustrating weekend for the veteran Formula One pilot. Technical issues prevented him from turning any worthwhile laps in Friday’s opening practice session (FP1). A spin 45 minutes into Friday’s second practice (FP2) ended that session prematurely, as the rear wing, floor and rear suspension needed to be replaced. A second spin in qualifying on Saturday damaged the gearbox, necessitating a replacement and incurring a five-place grid penalty. Alas, the 20th-place starting spot proved to be moot, as the issue with the brake-by-wire system meant Grosjean was unable to start the formation lap. When the problem was deemed terminal, Grosjean’s race was over before it even began.
Fifteen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. Seventh-place Toro Rosso increased its margin over the American squad to 19 points as Daniil Kvyat finished ninth, while ninth-place Renault cut the gap on Haas F1 Team to 21 points as Kevin Magnussen finished 10th.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the Singapore Grand Prix from the pole by .488 of a second over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. It was Rosberg’s 22nd career Formula One victory, his eighth of the season and his first at Singapore. And with Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, finishing third, Rosberg’s third straight win allowed him to leapfrog Hamilton in the championship standings. Rosberg came into Singapore two points behind Hamilton, but he leaves with an eight-point advantage with six races remaining on the 2016 Formula One schedule. The next event comes in two weeks with the Malaysia Grand Prix Oct. 2 at Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“There’s not much to say, honestly. I lost the brake-by-wire and we couldn’t race like that. I don’t know what happened. I feel so bad for the guys. They gave their best in very tough conditions. It’s hard on everyone. From FP1 it was always going to be hard, missing the session. We now just have to work away to get to Malaysia, get the best setup, right updates, see where everything is working, and hope for a steadier weekend. I love the race here in Singapore and I love the challenge, but this weekend was just not ours.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It wasn’t an easy race, but I think the whole weekend we were pretty consistent. It’s this consistency that’s helping us to understand and work on the details and really try to improve. I lost a bit of time at the start and to recover that on track was pretty difficult. Trying to push the tires, I overheated them and they started to drop off at the end of the stint. However, we ended 11th, so close to the points again. We just need to keep optimistic and push forward. I’m proud of the crew. They’ve worked really well together. Although it hasn’t been a simple one this weekend, I believe that Malaysia will be better and we’ll have a better understanding of the car, which will help us attack the front.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“Esteban did a good job today. He finished, again, in 11th. I’m almost tired to say that now, but it is what it is. You always want things to be better, but we were fighting out there and ended up 11th. Esteban did a good job all weekend, so fair play to him. Romain, well I think he’s happy the weekend’s over and he can focus on the next one. His weekend started badly and ended worse by not even starting the race due to a brake-by-wire issue. We’re still investigating why it happened on his lap to the grid. I think the only thing for him is onward and upward, and Esteban keeps improving. Now we get ready for Malaysia.”
Round 16 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit. Practice begins Sept. 30, qualifying takes place Oct. 1 and the race runs Oct. 2.