Haas Reflect on the Race Strategy that cost them Valuable Points

After the chaos at turn-one for the Belgian Grand Prix, Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez profited hugely by steering through the shrapnel. 

Grosjean started the race in 11th and worked his was up to 5th after the opening lap, memories of Melbourne must have been whirling around the Frenchman’s helmet at this point. Gutierrez had an even better opening lap, making his way up to 9th from a lowly 18th. Haas found themselves in an incredibly strong position after lap one, but their luck would turn on its head later on.

When Kevin Magnussen had his massive off at Eau Rouge on lap six, the safety car was instantly deployed. Usually, the clever strategy is to box at this point for fresh rubber. If timed correctly, drivers can execute a pit-stop in half the usual time as the grid is collected. Grosjean boxed and Gutierrez followed suit. The Haas pair emerged in 10th and 13th respectively as other cars opted to remain on-track.

Then, shoulders would have sunk in unison at the Haas garage. The red flag was shown and the race stopped. Under red flag conditions, teams are permitted to put new tyres on the car anyway, meaning that in hinsight, Haas had made an unnecessary pit-stop. Had they stayed out, Grosjean would have restarted the race in 6th on fresh rubber and Gutierez in 9th.

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Grojean was hampered by an energy recovery system issue later on, which hampered the French driver massively on the straights. It allowed Gutierrez to get the upper hand this time as the drivers arrived at the checkered flag in 12th and 13th.

After the race, Grosjean said,

“Well, it was a very good start and a very good first lap. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any top speed in the beginning of the race. Something was not going quite right. It took a lot of time to solve that. My last stint wasn’t bad.

I made up a lot of time on everyone, but the damage had already been done. We had a shot at a good finish today. On the positive side, I’m much happier with the car than I was recently, so that’s at least great. It’s just a shame we lost an opportunity for a good result.”

– Romain Grosjean

Grosjean Interviewed

Haas sit 17-points adrift of Toro Rosso in the Constructor standings after Alonso scored well for McLaren. It sets the tone for the rest of 2016 for the American team. They will be fighting Toro Rosso for the next few races as McLaren pull away. Both Haas and Toro Rosso were impressive at the start of the year, but have somewhat fallen back recently.

Monza should see the Haas cars beat Toro Rosso given the stronger, newer Ferrari power-unit that the team possess. But 17 points is quite the deficit given the team are currently struggling to score anything.

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 28: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo leads Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2016 in Spa, Belgium (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 28: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo leads Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2016 in Spa, Belgium (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)