For the Haas F1 Team, Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix is a classic case of “What might have been.”
A stellar qualifying on Saturday saw both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean advance into Q3, with the duo eventually qualifying sixth and seventh respectively, and Daniel Ricciardo’s five-spot grid penalty moved them up to fifth and sixth on the grid.
The race start saw even more good fortune as Magnussen moved into fourth in Turn 1 and stayed there for the opening stint, while Grosjean eventually worked himself into fifth after a spin by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
However, the wheels, almost literally, came off of their weekend during the first round of pit stops, with both drivers exiting the pits with loose wheels – the left-rear for Magnussen and the left-front for Grosjean – and both cars retired within a handful of laps of each other.
What’s more, the team was fined for a pair of unsafe pit releases, adding insult to injury on a day that began with so much promise.
Magnussen seemed particularly frustrated and kept his post-race comments very short.
“Tough one to swallow. Not only for me, but the whole team, losing both cars in such a good position. Tough one to swallow, but we’ll fight back,” he told Formula’1 Will Buxton in the post-race edition of F1 Paddock Pass.
Grosjean echoed similar disappointment, highlighting their strong pace as evidence that a good result slipped through their grasp.
“It’s not the easiest moment, you know, especially for the first race of the season, the first time we’re running fourth and fifth with the cars and doing a great job. We had good pace,” he said to Buxton during the aforementioned Paddock Pass.
However, Grosjean also asserted a sense optimism for Haas’ outlook in the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, given how well they looked at the opening round in Australia.
“I’m sure we’re going to come back stronger, we always bounce back,” he asserted. “(In the race) we lost a lot of points. But, if the car is as good as it was today for the rest of the season, we’re going to be like ‘We’re going to forget that one.’ If it’s not the case, it could be a bit more painful. I’ve got good hope that the car is going to be good and that we can keep up our showing.”