Romain Grosjean may have been unable to repeat his magical charge to fifth place for Haas from last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but the Frenchman nevertheless managed to pick up an early birthday present in the form of his first Formula 1 points of the year.
Grosjean lifted NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ eponymous operation to its best F1 result in just its second-ever race in Bahrain last year, finishing fifth.
The pace advantage of the front-runners and close-knit nature of the midfield made a repeat result unlikely for Grosjean in 2017, leaving him to settle for eighth place at the checkered flag.
The result marked Grosjean’s first points of the year, matching the result achieved by teammate Kevin Magnussen seven days earlier in China.
“It was a pretty good race. I made a decent start and my first stint was pretty good, but it was tough to stay behind the Renault,” Grosjean – who turns 31 today – said.
“Then we had the bad luck with the safety car, as we’d pitted just before. I saw [Sergio] Perez come out and I thought: ‘How did he come out in front of me when he’d been 10 seconds behind?’ He gained 12 seconds with the safety car and that cost a position.
“At the restart I struggled a little bit with the top speed. But, eventually, we made the right strategy call and pushed on the good laps with some great overtaking maneuvers. So, here we are, P8. It’s good to be here scoring points.”
With Grosjean and Magnussen now off the mark in 2017, Haas now has two drivers contributing to its F1 points haul for the first time. Esteban Gutierrez failed to score a single point through his one-year stint with the team in 2016.