The Haas Formula 1 Team’s dream start to life on the grid continued in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix as Romain Grosjean went one better than he did in Australia two weeks ago by finishing fifth.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas saw Grosjean pick up points for his new F1 operation on debut in Melbourne, marking a dream start for the American team.
Grosjean qualified ninth in Bahrain on Saturday, and made a three-stop strategy work perfectly to rise to fifth in the closing stages for Haas, picking up another 10 points. Grosjean ran Pirelli’s supersoft tires the first three stints, then finished on softs.
All the while he made several passing maneuvers, and the Haas F1 Team made their first live pit stops after the abnormal race in Melbourne.
The result sees Haas remain in fifth place in the constructors’ championship on 18 points, while Grosjean now sits joint-fourth in the drivers’ standings – ahead of Sebastian Vettel – with Kimi Raikkonen behind Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.
It’s a surreal moment for Grosjean, who spoke to NBCSN’s Will Buxton after the race.
“I don’t know! This is the American dream! It is unbelievable,” Grosjean told Buxton. “We had to manage our expectations with sixth in Australia. It was good.
“Here, we’re five, with an aggressive strategy. And we can do better, pit stops, setup and so on – but this is for the guys. They’re all very tired. The work behind the scenes they are doing is huge. But this is a massive reward!
“This is real? This is real!” he said, as he slapped his own face to remind himself this wasn’t a dream – even though he said it is.
Grosjean reflected on the tire strategy, as he qualified ninth and therefore had more sets of supersofts available for the race. The Haas VF-16 chassis worked well with it.
“I had a good feeling in the car. Tire degradation has always been a strength for me in the past,” he said. “So I had a very good feeling on the supersofts. Everything was working well. It’s just nice to drive.”
Lastly, Grosjean reflected on his World Championship position.
“I’m standing fifth in the driver’s championship, and I’ve never been that high! It’s the first time in my career!
“I was gonna tweet a picture of the standings after Melbourne. Now I’m front of Vettel and right with Raikkonen?! Right now we enjoy it, we rest well, and we come back in China.”