Esteban Gutiérrez – Started 18th, Finished 14th (Running, completed 55/56 laps)
Romain Grosjean – Started 14th, Finished 19th (Running, completed 55/56 laps)
Haas F1 Team didn’t score its third straight point-paying finish in the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday at the Shanghai International Circuit, but it did secure another “first” in its debut season. Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean both finished the race, something that hadn’t been done in the first two races of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship in Australia and Bahrain.
Gutiérrez finished 14th to lead the way for Haas F1 Team in Shanghai, while Grosjean finished 19th. Each driver completed 55 of the 56 laps available, lapped by the lights-out Nico Rosberg, who drove his Mercedes to a massive 37.776 second margin of victory over second-place Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari.
Gutiérrez’s solid run came via a three-stop strategy. The 24-year-old started the race in 18th place on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire before switching on lap 35 to the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire. Gutiérrez took another set of supersofts on lap 44 that carried him to the finish. It was his first full race distance of the 2016 season, as Gutiérrez suffered retirements in Australia and Bahrain.
After celebrating his 30th birthday earlier in the day, Grosjean started 14th and was on the same tire strategy as his teammate. That strategy, however, endured a hiccup when a first-turn skirmish on the opening lap sent Grosjean to the pits for a new front wing. A stack-up involving a number of cars saw the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson cut across the nose of Grosjean’s VF-16. Grosjean was forced to the pits for an unscheduled stop after only one lap, with valuable time needed to attach the new wing. Despite returning to the race in 21st, Grosjean employed the same tenaciousness that earned him back-to-back top-six finishes to open the season. He gained back two positions to cross the stripe in 19th when the checkered flag waved.
Despite not scoring any points in Shanghai, Haas F1 Team remains fifth in the constructor standings, 11 points behind fourth-place Williams and one point ahead of sixth-place Toro Rosso.
Rosberg’s victory kept him undefeated in 2016 and extended his win streak to six, dating back to last year’s Mexican Grand Prix. His triumph in Shanghai was his second at the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn circuit, making him only the third driver to have multiple Chinese Grand Prix victories, joining his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Rosberg leads the championship standings by 36 points over Hamilton.
“It was a horrific race. The start was terrible when (Marcus) Ericsson turned into me and got my front wing. From there we had the safety car and I thought, ‘OK, we still have a chance to do something.’ But the balance in the car was nowhere near good. I don’t know what happened. Somehow, it’s positive that we had such a difficult race, because we can analyze what we did wrong, what we did right and what we could have done differently. From there, we can come back stronger. It’s a difficult one after the two first races. Not the birthday I was hoping for.”
“It was fun out there today and to finish the race was a big step. I think we can now build on this performance as we prepare for Russia. I really want to thank the guys because they’re doing a great job. The pit stops were fantastic, really consistent. Unfortunately, we didn’t have DRS (Drag Reduction System), so it was difficult to overtake, but overall it was a solid race. We now need to finish inside the points and that’s what we’ll be focusing on, so I’m really looking forward to the next one.”
“A difficult race for us, but we took two cars to the finish. The drivers did their jobs. Romain was unlucky at the start, losing part of his front wing. He had to come in for a wing change, which lost him track position and time. The car afterward was very difficult to drive. Good for Esteban finishing 14th. He finished his first race for Haas F1 Team. I think we learned a lot this weekend, and all that we’ve learned we’ll take to Russia and see what we can do there.”
Round 4 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Practice begins April 29, qualifying takes place April 30 and the race runs May 1.