The Haas Formula 1 team’s sophomore campaign got off to a bad start on Sunday as drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were both forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, making its debut in Australia 12 months ago.
Grosjean scored a memorable sixth-place finish on that day in Melbourne, and looked poised to repeat the result in 2017 after qualifying sixth on Saturday.
A poor start was Grosjean drop to seventh, but he managed to hold position through the opening stint of the race ahead of the pit stop cycle.
However, Grosjean had no chance to wield some strategic genius as Haas did last year, with a water leak forcing him to retire while inside the top 10.
“I suddenly lost a lot of power. I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car,” Grosjean explained.
“It’s a pretty disappointing result, but again, right now I’m hot and we’re all disappointed to lose a seventh-place position, but the car was there in qualifying in P6. The start wasn’t ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there’s huge potential in the car.
“I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn’t have last year, where I’d be fifth in Bahrain then 19th in China. I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results. If we do that, then I’m sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points.”
Grosjean’s new teammate for 2017, Kevin Magnussen, suffered an early setback when he clashed with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson on the first lap, and ultimately retired due to a suspension issue stemming from the incident.
“I had Ericsson on the outside and I understeered into the side of him, which was unfortunate. I lost my front wing and damaged the car a little bit,” Magnussen said.
“We changed the front wing and then I went for a long test session to feel the car and learn a bit more about it, which was good. It feels good and the car is fast.
“That’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there. We just have to make it finish and score points.”
Team principal Guenther Steiner added: “Not the race we wished for, or we expected. With Romain it looks like we had a water leak. We don’t know yet where that came from.
“Obviously, Kevin’s race was destroyed in the third corner after the contact with Ericsson. He then ended up later with a suspension failure, which we still have to investigate why.
“The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China in two weeks.”