Rivals "shocked" by Haas' Red Bull-beating pace
Formula 1’s midfield teams were shocked by how fast Haas was in Austrian Grand Prix qualifying after Romain Grosjean split the Red Bulls.
Grosjean will start Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring in fifth place, having initially beaten Daniel Ricciardo to a third-row start and lapped just 0.052s slower than Max Verstappen before also benefitting from Sebastian Vettel's grid penalty.
Kevin Magnussen backed up Grosjean in eighth place as Haas enjoyed a 0.8s gap to the next-best team Renault.
The same gap covered the best cars from Renault, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, McLaren and Williams.
“I am shocked,” said Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
“From one weekend to another, we know they can be so fast, but [being] that fast is quite impressive.”
Renault driver Carlos Sainz Jr said he expected Haas to perform well here because it was strong in Austria in 2017 and extremely competitive at other high-speed tracks this season.
However, Sainz admitted the gap was “a world” on the midfielders’ 64-second lap.
“They are more in the frontrunners' league than in ours,” he said.
“They were 0.4s faster in Paul Ricard in qualifying, I expected them to be 0.4s ahead here. It’s a shorter track and it [the gap] is 0.8s…
“It’s a bit too much for us and we’re not happy about it.”
Sainz’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg said he had “sensed” this “super-strong” performance from Haas after Paul Ricard.
“Yesterday [in practice] that was confirmed and the gap behind was pretty big,” he added.
“We’ve done a good job of turning ourselves around quite well and recovered, but we don’t have enough to compete with them.”
Force India driver Esteban Ocon said Haas was piling the pressure on its rivals.
Asked if he was surprised by that kind of performance, Ocon replied: “Yeah, for sure.
“Grosjean is in front of a Red Bull. It says it all, eh?”
Ocon’s teammate Sergio Perez admitted Haas’s form meant his team risked losing ground during a critical spell of the season.
He said: “We have a lot of races together that will determine a lot of the championship and it’s important we don’t lose too much ground to those teams.”
Sainz expressed the same concern as Perez and said Renault could not afford to treat this as a one-off.
“We need to keep bringing performance to this car, if not Haas is going to have the upper hand for the rest of the season,” he said.
"It’s a tendency that they are very quick in these types of corners and compounds and [smooth] tarmac.
“We definitely think they have a pattern there.”
Grosjean did not think the result was track-specific, although he admitted that “a little bit” was in the lack of low-speed corners that have hurt Haas at other circuits.
“We are very good,” he added. “I think our car is going to be fast until the end of the year.
“Coming back to fifth [in the constructors’ championship] would be nice and we’ll see how much we can close up to Renault.”
Additional reporting by Maria Reyer, Ben Anderson and Adam Cooper
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|Location||Red Bull Ring|
|Drivers||Nico Hulkenberg Shop Now , Sergio Perez Shop Now , Romain Grosjean Shop Now , Carlos Sainz Jr. Shop Now , Esteban Ocon , Pierre Gasly|
|Teams||Force India , Toro Rosso Shop Now , Renault F1 Team , Haas F1 Team|
|Article type||Breaking news|