Romain Grosjean was pleased that the work put in during pre-season testing appears to be paying off after a productive first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday at Albert Park.
The Haas F1 Team racer ended twelfth overall in the morning session before improving to tenth in the afternoon, his time of 1:23.814 putting him amid what appears to be another close midfield battle in 2019, and only 1.214 seconds off the pace set by reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
“It’s good to be back out there” admitted the Frenchman. “This is a track I’ve always enjoyed driving, matched by the great atmosphere in the paddock.
“It looks like it’s quite tight in the midfield, which is super exciting. Everything we learned in testing has been working quite well here. We’ll find out a bit more tomorrow, but I think for the first day, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.”
Team-mate Kevin Magnussen was the quicker of the Haas drivers in first practice as he ended up ninth fastest, with the Dane falling to twelfth in the quicker afternoon session, and he says he was pleased with the performance of the VF-19 throughout the day.
“It wasn’t too bad today,” agreed Magnussen. “It was nice to be back driving on a racing track on a race weekend. I’m excited about that. It felt good, but, as always, we’ve now got lots of things to look at.
“We’ll be working hard tonight, but there’s no big issues, we’re pretty happy with the performance in the car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Team Principal Guenther Steiner felt it was a solid day for the whole Haas team, who are looking to impress for a second consecutive season in Australia after qualifying fifth and sixth on the grid back in 2018, Magnussen ahead of Grosjean, although wheel nut issues for both cars cost them a big haul of points on race day, which ultimately cost them the chance of finishing fourth in the Constructors’ Championship come the end of the season.
“It was a solid day today,” said Steiner. “We did a lot of testing, and we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We still need to find a little bit more speed though.
“Hopefully tonight our guys can do a good job looking over all the information from today, so we can be ready for tomorrow.”