Sixth on debut ‘like a win’ for Gene Haas
Gene Haas has described scoring points on the team’s Formula 1 debut as ‘like a victory’ following Romain Grosjean’s impressive drive at Albert Park.
The new American operation produced one of the highlights of the Australian Grand Prix as Grosjean fought from 19th on the grid to claim sixth at the chequered flag.
Haas F1 had performed largely as expected in qualifying with both its drivers Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez failing to progress beyond Q1.
While Gutierrez was caught up in Fernando Alonso’s spectacular crash, a long first stint brought Grosjean into play as the team fitted fresh medium tyres during the red flag stoppage, which the Frenchman nurtured for the remaining 39 laps.
Haas F1’s achievement will rank alongside the most impressive for an all-new team, with Toyota the last to score points on debut in 2002.
Overjoyed by his team’s success, boss Gene Haas paid tribute to his staff who made the leap to join his new F1 project.
“For us it is a win. It is probably better than a win because it validates everything we have worked on to get to this point,” said Haas.
“I think this is a real morale booster for all the guys and it validates that they have made the right choice to sign for Haas F1.
“Romain took a big risk in joining us and in retrospect it is crazy to sign for a team that doesn’t exist, but he did it and he drove his heart out. For us it feels better than a win.
“The goal was for both cars to finish the race. I thought attrition maybe would have got us a 10th place.
“Five cars fell out for various reasons so we just needed to go beyond that but we exceeded that by getting up to sixth.”
Haas says the result has not revised the team’s expectations for the season but remains confident the car will remain competitive.
“We had a good day. Unfortunately they don’t always repeat themselves,” added Haas.
“The car is good and I think we have a got a good stable chassis and the engine has got power. I think we have a good car to race for rest of the year.
“Gunther (Steiner) did a great job of finding all these people and he put all the deals together.
“We have been working at this for a long time and it came together and we had a great day.”