Romain Grosjean: "Everything is working well. I don’t think I’ve ever been as high as fifth in the driver standings."
Haas F1 Team’s strong start to its debut season in the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship continued Sunday at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
After starting ninth, Romain Grosjean finished an impressive fifth in the 57-lap race around the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. It was his second point-scoring result in as many races, as the 29-year-old finished sixth two weeks ago in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The eight points earned in Melbourne combined with the 10 points secured in Bahrain have placed Grosjean fifth in the driver standings – the highest position of his Formula One career. In fact, dating back to last year’s Mexican Grand Prix Nov. 1 in Mexico City, Grosjean has finished among the top-10 in five straight races, scoring a total of 25 points.
The back-to-back efforts have also placed Haas F1 Team a solid fifth in the constructor standings. The first American team to compete in Formula One in 30 years is only two points behind fourth-place Williams and seven points ahead of sixth-place Toro Rosso.
While Grosjean has enjoyed a strong start to his season, teammate Esteban Gutiérrez had his race end prematurely for the second straight time. The 24-year-old had charged from his 13th-place starting spot to eighth on the opening lap, but a problem with his left-front brake disc only nine laps into the race forced Gutiérrez to abandon his challenge and retire to the garage.
For the remaining 48 laps, Grosjean led the way for Haas F1 Team. Running an aggressive strategy based on three planned pit stops, Grosjean hit his marks each time. Climbing to fourth, Grosjean’s first pit stop on lap 12 placed him on another brand new set of the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires. Rejoining in 10th place, he carved his way back through the field, overtaking Williams’ Felipe Massa and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Quickly back in fourth place, Grosjean pitted for a used set of supersofts on lap 29, rejoining the field eighth after a three-second pit stop. He once again demonstrated his prowess and that of the VF-16, rejoining the top-five with a textbook move on the Red Bull Racing entry of Daniil Kyvat. Grosjean’s third and final pit stop came on lap 40, this time with the Pirelli P Zero White medium tires bolted on to take him to the end of the race.
Grosjean cracked the top-six with 10 laps remaining courtesy of an effortless pass on Massa, a carbon-copy of his earlier move on the veteran driver. With a handful of laps remaining, Grosjean secured fifth and was cleared by the team to push all the way to the finish, the team confident of his advantage. When the checkered flag dropped, Grosjean was 2.630 seconds ahead of sixth-place Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen.
Romain Grosjean - Driver No. 8
“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.”
Esteban Gutiérrez - Driver No. 21
“We have done a fantastic job. After a great start, where I gained a lot of positions, I was feeling very confident. I was very happy with how the car was feeling, and I was managing my tires and fuel well. Unfortunately, we had an issue with the front brake and we felt we couldn’t continue, so I had to retire. I’m now looking ahead to China. The team is performing really well. The speed is there and we have a great car. So, I will keep fighting for the next race.”
Guenther Steiner - Team Principal
“A fantastic day for the team. Romain did a great job. The whole team did a great job. The only downside is that Esteban didn’t complete the race. We had a problem with the left-front brake, which we’re going to investigate further. Our aim now for China is to get two cars to the finish and to finish in the points. We’ve done a few pit stops, which gives us a lot of confidence. We can’t wait to go to the next race and to try and keep this form going.”
Haas F1 Team