Gene Haas: “Grosjean just drove his heart out”

Gene Haas was both delighted and proud after the Haas F1 Team’s debut Grand Prix in Australia saw Romain Grosjean secure a sixth place finish around the Albert Park circuit on Sunday.

The Team Founder and Chairman of the Haas F1 Team was thankful to many people after becoming the first start-up new team to score points on their debut since Toyota back in 2002 at the same circuit, including technical partners Ferrari and chassis makers Dallara.

“A lot of people have contributed to this, so we have to thank all the people, starting with Guenther Steiner (team principal) who put all this together and kept pushing me to go out and try this,” said Haas.

“The Ferrari people have been excellent. They’ve helped us a lot. Dallara helped us build the chassis. We’ve got a great sponsor in Haas Automation. It’s all great.

“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.”

Haas praised Grosjean for securing the top six finish by conserving his Pirelli tyres for a long stint after making the mandatory change of tyre under red flag conditions during the clear up of the crash between Grosjean’s team-mate Esteban Gutierrez and McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso.

The team founder knows the team will have worse days to come during their rookie season, but says they will celebrate this result in Australia.

“Grosjean had a heck of a challenge there,” insisted Haas. “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.

“Grosjean 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. He was saving fuel near the end, so I think once we got to the last few laps and we started to push a little harder, the car really responded.

“This is racing. It’s what we do for a living and, you know, it’s cool. But I’ll tell you, there’ll be some bad days too, so we’ll enjoy this one.”