Haas struggles in home F1 race, drops back in constructors’ standings

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Haas Formula 1 Team had a home race to forget as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished outside of the points in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Haas ventured to the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas for its second home race since joining F1 at the start of the 2016 season hopeful of building on its double-points haul in Japan last time out.

Grosjean was Haas’ best hope of points, starting 11th, and ran as high as ninth before falling back through the closing stages as he struggled with worn tires.

“Not much pace in the car, and massive tire degradation on my front-left tire. I was trying to hang in there, but the last few laps I felt it was pretty dangerous,” Grosjean said.

“Off track the weekend’s been great with the fans. I’m very sorry we couldn’t put on a better show from the team. We’re all going to work hard. We know Mexico was tough on us last year but, hopefully, we find some solutions.

“We’re going to work hard, but right now it’s disappointing not to put on a better show at home.”

Magnussen started 17th after a tough qualifying and a grid penalty, only to suffer a further setback early on after contact with Pascal Wehrlein left his Haas car with a puncture on Lap 4.

Haas moved Magnussen onto an aggressive one-stop strategy, but he too struggled to keep life in his soft compound Pirellis, causing him to fall back into Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson’s clutches on-track.

The pair collided when scrapping for position, prompting Haas to bring Magnussen in and fit a set of super-softs to get to the end of the race, where he was the last classified finisher in P16.

“Not the best day for us, but the car was actually better from qualifying. We just had to pit at the first lap, so our tires – we tried to do the whole race on softs, but not quite possible,” Magnussen said.

“We had to try. It was the only thing we could try in that situation. So, onto the next one.”

Haas dropped down to eighth in the constructors’ championship on Sunday as Renault picked up six points through Carlos Sainz Jr. in P7, leaving the American team on the back foot with three races left this season.

The tough weekend on-track was balanced out by Haas’ further embrace – and the U.S. fans’ further appreciation – of the team in several events during the weekend.

A group photo of Haas fans with the team took place at the redubbed “Haas Hill” on the outside of Turns 18 and 19, and the Haas F1 Team also conducted its second annual full-team shot pre-race on Sunday morning. (All photos: Haas F1 Team).

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds