Grosjean: Sixth place on debut like a win for Haas

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Romain Grosjean believes that a sixth-place finish on debut in Sunday’s 2016 Formula 1 season opener in Australia is equivalent to winning a race for the new Haas team.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas saw his eponymous operation hit the grid for the first time on Sunday, with Grosjean and teammate Esteban Gutierrez starting from 19th and 20th respectively.

However, Grosjean was able to work his way up the order and benefit from a red flag period to rise to sixth at the end of the race, marking the best debut result for a start-up team since Toyota in 2002.

“We did it. A bit lucky in the race with the red flag but nonetheless we had a good car,” Grosjean told NBC Sports after the race.

“We threw it on track with no setup work, no chance to do anything during the weekend and here we are, P6 at the end.

“I told the guys that this is a win for you, this is a win for the whole team, for the work that has been done in the last few weeks, few months. They haven’t slept much.

“They made it possible and this is incredible.”

Haas himself was delighted with the result, admitting he was proud to have made such an impression on debut with an American team.

“There’s a new F1 team on the block and it’s an American F1 team, so real proud of that,” Haas told NBC Sports.

“But these guys are pretty dang good at what they do. I’m not going to sit there and say we’re going to be in front of them all of the time, but maybe we’ll do better next week.”