By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
If Haas F1 Team and Romain Grosjean were thrilled with their Formula One debut in Australia by netting sixth place, they and their fans must be ecstatic today after a virtuoso drive by the Frenchman took them one better for a fifth place finish in Bahrain.
Starting ninth, Grosjean utilized three sets of supersofts, and a final stint on softs in an incredibly aggressive strategy that paid dividends.
The chaotic start, during which the two Williams caught the leading Mercedes duo and Valtteri Bottas hip checked Lewis Hamilton, gave Grosjean the perfect opportunity to move up a few places and got him to sixth.
He then picked off Felipe Massa who was on the harder compound medium tires and suffering from a developmental front wing, for fifth place.
A quick Max Verstappen was gunning for him in the final laps, but Grosjean upped the pace accordingly and came across the line in a astounding fifth place.
This is the American dream. It is unbelievable. I said we had to manage our expectations after we finished sixth in Australia, but here we finished fifth. There’s still a lot of things we can do better, from pit stops to the setup of the car and so on but, for now, this one is for the guys. I looked at their faces last night and they were all very tired because of the amount of work we’re doing. This is a massive reward. Really, just unbelievable. In the race, I had a good feeling in the car. It was an aggressive strategy, but managing tires has always been my strength in the past. Knowing we had a softer compound for this racetrack was something I liked. The car was set up well for the supersoft tires and I had a fantastic race. The car has a very good baseline. Everything is working well. I don’t think I’ve ever been as high as fifth in the driver standings. This is the first time in my career, I can’t believe it. – Romain Grosjean
Throughout the race Grosjean battled with Williams, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and even Mercedes and the Haas VF-16 performed flawlessly. If last round was like a win, this is like a championship. No team has made such waves on debut in decades. Grosjean stated his intent in joining Haas was to be his own man and forge a potential path to Ferrari. He is certainly making his case.
After two rounds, Grosjean lies fifth in the championship, with 18 points. Ahead of the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. The team is fifth in the Constructor’s championship as well, just two points behind Williams.
Next up is the Chinese Grand Prix on April 17th and you can bet even more eyes within the paddock and around the world will be on Haas F1 and Romain Grosjean to see just how long the dream debut can continue.