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Grosjean: ‘Bloody annoying’ to miss out on Suzuka points

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Romain Grosjean made no secret of his frustration after missing out on a points finish in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, calling it “bloody annoying”.

Grosjean and Haas Formula 1 teammate Esteban Gutierrez secured the team’s first double-Q3 appearance on Saturday at Suzuka, qualifying P8 and P10 respectively.

Grosjean dropped to ninth off the line before falling outside the points, leaving him with a fightback if he wanted to end Haas’ run without points that dates back to the middle of July.

The Frenchman ultimately crossed the line 11th, less than a second behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas in P10.

“We struggled at first with the softs [tires], a lot of graining. But then the car was flying!” Grosjea told NBCSN after the race.

“I’ve never been so frustrated to end a race because we deserved much more. We were so much faster than the Williams.

“The pace was amazing. A lot of promise, but it’s so bloody annoying to be that close and not do anything.”

Grosjean has struggled with brake problems through the past few races, but said that Haas is now on top of the issue.

“The brakes, we know what’s happening. Not enough energy in brakes when they’re cold, and they don’t work,” he explained.

“No confidence then. But that was one of the best drives of my career, even if no points!

“I’m so frustrated with the result but so optimistic about the updates and the pace we have. We know what we can do.”

Gutierrez saw his hopes of points end after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr. dropped him out of contention, miring him towards the back of the field. The Mexican crossed the line in 20th place.

“Everything started pretty good. We’ve been working a lot on getting the best out of our start and today that proved to be better,” Gutierrez said.

“On the first stint, things were going well. We were managing the gap, pushing to get higher up to the front of the grid. I then came into the pits and I ended back out behind a lot of traffic, and that was it.

“I was trying to push forward, trying to overtake, and then I had an incident with Carlos. He braked a bit early, closing the door, and I had nowhere to go as I was preparing the corner to overtake him on the straight.

“After that, I had some damage on the front wing which wasn’t ideal. Unfortunately, this is how the race went. It was not what we wanted, but now we need to keep pushing and keep a good rhythm and really put in a good performance as we head to our home race in Texas.”

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.