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Was Haas F1's dream debut in Melbourne finally a "good thing" for Formula 1?

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Was Haas F1's dream debut in Melbourne finally a "good thing" for Formula 1?
Mar 22, 2016, 11:18 AM

Haas F1 surpassed all expectations on its Formula 1 debut with Romain Grosjean’s sixth place finish in the Australian Grand Prix.

Haas F1 surpassed all expectations on its Formula 1 debut with Romain Grosjean’s sixth place finish in the Australian Grand Prix.

Although the Frenchman’s race was boosted by the red flag, which was caused by Fernando Alonso’s high-speed crash with the other Haas car being driven Esteban Gutierrez, the American team became the first F1 constructor to score points on its debut since Toyota in 2002.

Esteban Gutierrez

Grosjean’s eight points scored in Melbourne also means Haas has racked up four times as many points in one day as the three teams that joined F1 in 2010 – Lotus (which became Caterham), HRT and Virgin (now Manor) – managed in five years.

Gene Haas, the team’s eponymous founder, praised his squad’s effort to get the team up and running with its Ferrari engine and Dallara-made chassis before beating long-established F1 outfits on its debut.

Gene Haas

He said: “There’s a new F1 team on the block and it’s an American F1 team, so we’re real proud of that. But these other teams are pretty dang good at what they do. I wouldn’t sit here and say we’re going to be in front of them all the time, but today was a good day.

“Obviously, the chassis, aero, engine – they all work. That’s what’s really important. That’s why we took the extra year to work on that. The car is a very stable platform. We’ve kind of known that since (testing in) Barcelona. There’s been a lot of little gremlins and technical issues, but I think the fundamental chassis will be awesome for us.”

Good for F1

Guether Steiner, Haas F1’s team principal, hailed the squad’s unique approach to F1 and its technical relationship with Ferrari, as he explained that its current position would not have been possible without the assistance of the Scuderia.

Guenther Steiner

He said: "Without the help from Ferrari this could not have happened. That's why we said we were not going to do it like the other new teams because it would be more of the same.

"We would be five years without points, and like anybody you would run out of enthusiasm. We said we needed to try something different, and we tried this and it seems to be working, although I'm cautious to say 'it's working' because we still have to repeat it.”

Although Steiner was keen to stress that it was only the first race of a long season, he believes the result was a positive story for F1.

Romain Grosjean

He said: "It's a good thing for Formula 1. A new team can come in and score points, that's pretty cool. But this is only one race. Clearly the pace of the car is there, and we are in the midfield, so that is already a positive.

"There will be some races where we are behind and some where we are even in front, but we are in that pack."

Grosjean “just drove his heart out”

Gene Haas hailed Grosjean’s driving as the former Lotus driver rose from 19th on the grid to sixth using a one-stop strategy, which was not made under racing conditions due to the red flag.

Gene Haas Romain Grosjean

He said: “Grosjean had a heck of a challenge there. They made the decision to go on the mediums for 39 laps, so that was really pushing it. He basically didn’t chew up his tyres initially, so he was able to get 39 laps out of them.

“I think near the end he was starting to pick up time on the person behind him. Tyre strategy, saving your tyres, those are the kinds of things that make a driver a legend.

“[He just] just drove his heart out and did everything he could to keep it up there and it worked out. When [Nico] Hulkenberg was behind him I thought he might catch him, but he held him off and we actually started to make some time.

Romain Grosjean

Grosjean described sixth place as “like a win” over the team radio and while he acknowledged the element of luck in his race, the 29-year-old dedicated the result to the Haas team members who had worked hard to get the squad ready for its debut.

He said: “A very good day at the office. This feels like a win. For all the guys who worked so hard over the last few weeks, this is unbelievable. We were unlucky yesterday, but got a bit lucky today with the red flag. Still, we were able to hold off the Williams and the Force India.

“We didn’t have much set-up (time) on the car. It was a case of, off you go and see what happens. This is an unbelievable feeling. The guys did an amazing job and I told them, this is like a win for all of us. First race and here we are, P6. A happy day.”

Romain Grosjean

What did you make of Haas F1’s debut? Is the result a good thing for Formula 1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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