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Formula One Team Haas gains on Renault in Japan

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Formula One Team Haas comes home to America three points closer to their closest constructors’ rival courtesy of Romain Grosjean’s eighth-place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Team Haas will enter the United States Grand Prix October 21 eight points behind Renault.

Kevin Magnussen was unable to contribute any points after a flat left rear tire damaged his car at the start of the race and forced him to retire in last place.

This was the fifth time this season that Grosjean finished in the points.

Grosjean believed his finish might have been better if not for some technical difficulties, one of which caused him to misjudge the distance between himself and Sergio Perez and meant the difference of one spot at the finish. A seventh-place finish would have netted two more points.

“We need to analyze what happened with the Virtual Safety Car restart,” Grosjean said in a press release after the race. “I was right on my delta time and Perez, when the gap was 2.4 seconds before, overtook me straight away. We need to check and see if there is not a problem in the system there. I thought I had done the job on my side. We did our best. We had a few technical issues on the car, which didn’t make our life easy. I think without those, we clearly had the pace to be in front of all those guys. Onto the next one.”

MORE: F1 Team Haas hopes to return to America fourth in constructors’ standings

Magnussen’s race ended on Lap 8. Racing against Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, he was tagged in the left rear, causing damage to his tire that ultimately tore up the suspension.

“I passed Charles around the outside of 130R, then through the last chicane he kept close and slipstreamed down the main straight,” Magnussen said. “I went to the right, I think he followed for a bit and then went back to the left and clipped my left rear tire, causing the puncture. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what happens sometimes. The tire delaminated and ripped all the floor. It damaged the rear wing, the brake ducts, etc., so we had to retire.”

Renault was able to ameliorate the damage by earning one point. Carlos Sainz Jr. finished 10th – the first driver one lap off the pace.

“Not the best of our days,” team principal Guenther Steiner said. “The incident with Kevin, where Leclerc ran straight into him, took him out of the race, so we were one car down. Grosjean had a few issues with the car, with the telemetry, and with the handling of it. The car was pulling on the straights. At one point we thought he had a puncture, but luckily we didn’t. Then we had the incident with Perez overtaking us at the Virtual Safety Car, which we still need to look into. The good side is we closed the gap to Renault by three points, and I hope we make the rest up in the next four races.”

Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix by nearly 13 seconds after leading all 53 laps. Valtteri Bottas gave Mercedes a 1-2 finish in second.