By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Haas F1 Team put together their most promising race weekend to date, only to have it come undone midway through the Australian Grand Prix.
Kevin Magnussen started fifth on the grid, but made a phenomenal move on Max Verstappen around the outside of Turn 1 off the start to grab fourth. The 25-year-old Dane held the position solidly despite constant pressure from the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing pilot.
The breakout performance was helped when Verstappen spun on Lap 10 entering in Turn 1, which elevated Romain Grosjean up to fifth and put both cars from the American outfit inside the top five.
However, everything came apart following a routine pit stop for Magnussen, who ultimately retired on Lap 22 due to a loose wheel.
“It’s a very tough one to swallow for the whole team,” said Magnussen. “To have both cars not finishing – having been in such good positions and with so much anticipation – it’s just heartbreaking to finish like that. We’ll get on top again. We’ll fight back. I’m beyond disappointed right now, but we’ll get over it.”
The outcome was unfortunately much of the same for his Haas F1 teammate as Grosjean retired moments later on Lap 24, also due to a loose wheel.
“We had a good car all weekend,” said Grosjean. “I was happy with our low- and high-fuel pace. I had great pace today, and I’m sure I could have stayed a bit more with the frontrunners if I’d been in front of Kevin early in the race.
“We’ll now analyze everything and work out what happened exactly. We’ll come back stronger as we always do. It’s a lot of points lost today, but if we can repeat that performance over and over, we’re going to forget this very quickly.”
Ultimately, the issues came under review of the stewards, which eventually led to the team being fined $6,200 for each incident.
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal of Haas F1, discussed the disappointing incidents. However, he also took away some positives from the pace of the Ferrari-powered VF-18’s.
“It was a disappointing end to a very promising weekend,” said Steiner. “We had two failures on the pit stops – didn’t tie the wheels on correctly, so we had to stop the cars. As much as you don’t want to say it, it’s racing. It happens, even though it shouldn’t.
“It’s almost unbelievable to have this in one race, and on two cars, while running fourth and fifth. It’s very disappointing. The good thing we can take away from this is that the car is competitive. We just need to get our heads up again, to get well prepared for Bahrain.
“We’ll focus on that one and get our pit stops sorted out.”