Grosjean: Ninth the ‘perfect position’ to start in Bahrain

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Romain Grosjean believes that ninth place is the “perfect position” from which to start Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Haas Formula 1 Team became the first start-up operation to score points on debut in 14 years when Grosjean finished sixth in Australia two weeks ago.

The Frenchman followed this breakthrough result up by recording the team’s first top 10 qualifying result in F1 in Bahrain, finishing ninth in Saturday’s session.

Despite being knocked out of the Q3 slots late on by Nico Hulkenberg, Grosjean believes that ninth is actually a better position to start as it will give him a free choice of starting tire for Sunday’s race.

“I’m glad we’re not in Q3 actually. It’s a great place to start the race,” Grosjean told NBCSN.

“It’s higher than our own expectations. Talking with Guenther [Steiner, team principal] this is a big test for us. Tomorrow is a long race and difficult with the tire choices, but it’s possible to have a good time.”

All drivers that reach Q3 are required to start the race on the tire that they set their fastest Q2 lap on, while those starting ninth and lower can begin the grand prix on fresh rubber.

“I was keeping my fingers crossed to be out and be P9,” Grosjean admitted.

“So it’s the absolute perfect position, and a choice of tires.”

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.