The Haas Formula 1 Team’s maiden qualifying performance is unlikely to be remembered fondly as drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez struggled to 19th and 20th on the grid for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas will see his eponymous F1 team make its grand prix debut this weekend, becoming the first new start-up operation to race in six years.
After showing a good pace in pre-season testing, hopes were high for Haas’ opening weekend, only for both of its drivers to fail to make it through Q1 on Saturday.
Neither Grosjean nor Gutierrez managed to get in a quick first lap in Q1, putting them at risk of being eliminated as the field was whittled down at 90-second intervals.
Gutierrez’s second run was mistimed, meaning that he crossed the line just seconds after being eliminated. His lap would have been good enough to secure a place in Q2.
“It was a little frustrating not to see the lap time we achieved reflected in the results. However, we know the potential is there,” Gutierrez said.
“Overall, I think we’ve had a very tricky weekend, but with more time we’ll become more efficient as a team. The good thing is we know the lap time was good enough to be further up the grid.
“Looking ahead, we need to be positive, to keep working hard and moving forward.”
Grosjean was one of a number of drivers to criticize the new elimination format, saying that he was annoyed he could not complete his flying lap.
“I was on a good lap and then suddenly I’m out. I don’t even get a chance to go to the end of the lap,” Grosjean said.
“That’s annoying because the car was good, our baseline is good, and in terms of performance, we were clearly able to go through. We just missed a bit of speed on the turnaround in the garage, so we were massively out of position.
“This is one of those races where it’s tricky and you need to finish. That’s our first call for tomorrow though. That’s what Gene wants.
“From there, everything is possible. It’s a long race and we have new rules with the radio ban, so we just have to try to use the experience.”
You can watch Haas’ F1 debut live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12am ET on Sunday.