Haas F1 Team banks first double Q3 appearance in Suzuka

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Haas F1 Team has achieved an incredible accomplishment, by getting both its Haas VF-16 Ferraris into Q3 for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (midnight ET on Sunday morning/9 p.m. PT on Saturday evening, NBCSN).

Romain Grosjean matched his car number and will line up eighth, while Esteban Gutierrez will start 10th in his No. 21 car.

It’s quite an accomplishment for the first-year team and comes following a series of mechanical issues – primarily with the brakes – that have prevented the team from fulfilling its potential in terms of results in recent Grands Prix.

Grosjean, who came third in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, didn’t say he was entirely comfortable but was still pleased with his result.

“It felt pretty good. Quali went pretty smoothly,” Grosjean told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “There’s still a bit to improve. We used the new front wing today and it’s very positive for the future of the team. It’s going in the right direction. It translated into good aerodynamic performance. Quali went nice. Between seventh and eighth, and here we are.”

Asked whether he thought the brakes issue was sorted, he was non-committal, and instead noted that he’s struggled trying to get the balance right on the tires.

“I’m still not at my best yet! There’s a few things I’m not pleased with,” he admitted. “I’ve struggled with the tires. They can’t take much load. It just doesn’t work. So I have to find a fine balance.”

On the race prospects itself, Grosjean said, “Hopefully we get a good start and it’s not so easy to overtake. Once we have our pace, it’s a case of getting the best tire degradation.”

Gutierrez starts 10th in search of his first points this season – he’s finished just outside them in 11th on five occasions – and looks for his first points in F1 since his first and thus far only career score, seventh place for Sauber in that same 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

“I’m quite happy today. It’s an incredible achievement for the whole team,” Gutierrez told Buxton. “We managed to put everything together. We have a fantastic starting position for tomorrow. We are trying to find ourselves the fine-tuning.

“We improve step by step, our level of knowledge is improving. We know how to recover on a weekend. We started with poor pace. We put in the best performance of the season.”