Despite Haas being on course for their best season in their short time in Formula One, the American team have so far had a season which has been littered with missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential.
With the wounds of the Australian Grand Prix – where a double pit stop error eliminated them from a possible fourth and fifth place – are still relatively fresh in the memory, Haas have struggled to mount a consistent claim for the coveted fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Whilst still being at the forefront of the midfield, their early season has been hampered by incidents and component failures, mostly involving Romain Grosjean, at venues such as Bahrain, Baku and Barcelona.
Upgrades – brought for the Canadian Grand Prix onward – yielded pace improvements, but Haas were at tad fortunate to finish the last race at Paul Ricard as the lead midfielders; after looking quick all weekend, they were set back by qualifying and opening lap issues and had to rely on late-race mechanical troubles for Renault’s Carlos Sainz in order to take sixth place.
After Austria, though, Haas appear to have their season back on track after Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen secured fourth and fifth place at the Red Bull Ring on Haas’ 50th Formula One race, their best result in the sport to date.
Following a remarkable qualifying session where Grosjean managed to out-qualify one of the Red Bulls, the Haas duo ran comfortably at the head of the midfield, which enabled them to profit from any additional opportunities that came their way.
The elimination of the two Mercedes, as well as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, promoted the Haas drivers to fourth and fifth place finishes, worth twenty-two points to the team in the constructors’ standings. Haas already have more points than they managed throughout 2017.
“It’s redemption,” said team principal Guenther Steiner after the race.
“We got back (from the disappointment). The team were never demoralised. Everybody knows the potential of the car. And if you know that, it will come if you work hard.
“It’s fantastic, at our 50th race, to finish fourth and fifth. It’s for the guys and you can imagine how happy they are. Both cars in the points, Romain scoring for the first time this year. It’s a very successful weekend.”
Whilst Romain Grosjean’s first points of the season will undoubtedly lifted a weight off the Frenchman’s shoulders, team-mate Kevin Magnussen’s impressive season continues and the Dane has taken points in five of the nine races so far this year.
“We’ve had a very good weekend,” said Magnussen. “To challenge for top-five, we didn’t expect that. We finished both cars in the top-five, and that’s an incredible job from the team and I’m really proud of the whole team.
“We’ve shown this weekend that we’ve got a good car. Actually, it’s not only this weekend – we’ve shown all year that the car is very competitive. We’ve just got to keep going like this.”
Despite the big points haul, Haas remain thirteen points shy of fourth-placed Renault and Magnussen has called for consistency over the rest of the season to capitalise on the pace of the car.
“Our weakness is still consistency. It’s not outright pace in the car. It’s getting this level out of the car at every track.
“We’ve seen this year that even though the car is very good, we can have some off weekends like we did in Monaco and even in Montreal a little bit. It’s a lot better than last year but we need to keep on top and keep this ball rolling.”
The next round at Silverstone, which features many high-speed corners, is highly expected to favour Haas, with Steiner anticipating that the British Grand Prix could be another fruitful race for the team.
“Our car seems to be best at high-speed circuits, and with Silverstone being one of them, for sure we’re hoping to have a good result there, as well.”
“I think it’s just the aero characteristics. Some cars like slow circuits, some like fast corners, and ours seems to like the fast corners a lot better than the slow ones.”
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images
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