Haas’ F1 honeymoon ends with ‘horrific’ race in China

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Haas’ Formula 1 honeymoon came to an end in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix as drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez endured difficult races at the Shanghai International Circuit.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas saw his new F1 operation become the first start-up team in 14 years to score points on debut in Australia when Grosjean finished sixth.

The Frenchman followed this up with a fifth place finish in Bahrain, giving him plenty of confidence heading to China this weekend.

However, setup issues blighted Grosjean all weekend long, leaving him to ail to a lowly 19th place finish on his 30th birthday.

“It was a horrific race,” Grosjean said. “The start was terrible when [Marcus] Ericsson turned into me and got my front wing.

“From there we had the safety car and I thought, ‘OK, we still have a chance to do something.’ But the balance in the car was nowhere near good. I don’t know what happened.

“Somehow, it’s positive that we had such a difficult race, because we can analyze what we did wrong, what we did right and what we could have done differently.

“From there, we can come back stronger. It’s a difficult one after the two first races. Not the birthday I was hoping for.”

There was however another ‘first’ for Haas in China as it saw both cars make it to the end of the race, with Esteban Gutierrez finishing 14th.

Gutierrez retired in Australia and Bahrain, so was pleased to take the checkered flag in a grand prix for the first time since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but was hamstrung by an issue with the DRS on his car.

“It was fun out there today and to finish the race was a big step. I think we can now build on this performance as we prepare for Russia,” Gutierrez said.

“I really want to thank the guys because they’re doing a great job. The pit stops were fantastic, really consistent. Unfortunately, we didn’t have DRS, so it was difficult to overtake, but overall it was a solid race.

“We now need to finish inside the points and that’s what we’ll be focusing on, so I’m really looking forward to the next one.”