Romain Grosjean may have finished twelfth and last in Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix, but the Haas F1 Team racer was happy with the performance, particularly after where he was on the first lap at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
Grosjean was on the outside heading into turn two when he was hit by Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly, who had also been hit on his inside by Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Kimi Räikkönen. Grosjean had nowhere to go but through the gravel trap and then into the barriers.
He was able to escape the gravel trap (after restarting his engine!) and re-join the field, but the damage caused by the incident left him unable to fight with those ahead of him, and he duly finished at the back of the field. But he was happy they were able to see the chequered flag, particularly after looking at the damage caused to this VF-20.
“It’s one of the strengths of Haas – we never give up,” said Grosjean. “I had a big hit at turn two on the first lap. The car was switched off, I was ready to retire, then I saw I had two wheels on the grass so I restarted the engine to see if I could get out of the gravel.
“I was able to get going and the suspension was ok, so we thought – let’s keep going. At the first red flag I saw the state of the car, I didn’t know how we were going to keep racing, half of the left-hand side was missing. The guys said to hang in and we did our best.
“The last restart was fun, I managed to get up the order a bit. But when you’re missing about two seconds a lap, which we had calculated in aero damage, there’s not much you can do. That said, I’m very happy that we didn’t give up. Nobody can take that from us.”
“I guess somebody maybe tried to open a gap to get some momentum” – Kevin Magnussen
Team-mate Kevin Magnussen was less fortunate however, with the Dane being one of the four drivers to retire from the race on the safety car restart.
He did not blame race leader Valtteri Bottas for leaving it late in accelerating away to get the race back underway, but he had some harsher words for the drivers in the midfield who misjudged the restart and were forced to brake hard to avoid those in front.
This left Magnussen, as well as Carlos Sainz Jr., Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi with nowhere to go but to the scene of the incident as drivers met in the middle.
Magnussen feels that having the safety car restart line so far down the straight may have played a part in the accident, with the Dane feeling it would be better for it to be closer to the final corner to avoid any similar accident happening again at Mugello.
“What seemed to happen at the restart was that the leader was going slow all the way to the line, which he’s entitled to do, but then somewhere in the middle – between me and the front, somebody decided to go,” said Magnussen.
“I guess somebody maybe tried to open a gap to get some momentum, but they went too early and tried to stop again. The guy in front of me started to go, we were flat out for a few seconds, then suddenly they all braked. I braked, I saw people coming past, then I was hit by Giovinazzi – who had nowhere to go.
“This is certainly something to take a look at – in terms of whether or not this thing about overtaking until the line is a good idea or not. Maybe it’s a good idea to have it somewhere earlier on the straight. We can’t have this happen again.
“I’d got up to P12 from P20 on the first lap, it had been looking good. This is definitely another missed opportunity.”
“We ended up in positions where we shouldn’t be ending up” – Guenther Steiner
Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal of Haas, says whilst it there were exciting moments during the Tuscan Grand Prix, he would prefer for his team to stay out of the limelight somewhat, particularly when it comes to crashes.
Steiner felt the drivers were ending up in positions where they ought not to be, which meant Grosjean was hit on lap one and Magnussen on six, with the former struggling with a heavily damaged car thereafter and the latter retiring on the spot.
“It was an exciting race again,” said Steiner. “I think we create a lot of the excitement, but in the wrong way. We’re always part of why it gets exciting – which after a while gets old.
“We ended up in positions where we shouldn’t be ending up. When you’re on your back foot it normally takes a long time to get out. It was a challenging weekend. After three race weekends in a row, everybody’s happy to be going home. My thanks go to all our guys.
“We’ve had a lot of controversy over these three weekends, but they’ve worked hard and kept their heads high. I want to thank them for that. Now we’ll see everyone again in Sochi next.”