After a lacklustre season marred constantly by apparent correlation issues, Haas F1 took a rare opportunity to contest the front of midfield in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, but their drivers remain wary about whether Sunday can bring similar success.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean is set to start the Sao Paulo race from P7 with team-mate Kevin Magnussen behind in P9. Both drivers have moved up one place on the grid due to a penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“Having both cars in Q3 is unbelievable,” Grosjean said after qualifying, adding that he hadn’t shown his full speed in the morning’s practice session, where he finished in 16th.
Starting in 7th, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly will be the only midfield runner starting ahead of Grosjean’s Haas.
Consistent midfield frontrunners McLaren and Renault both faltered during Brazil’s qualifying session and neither had a car in Q3.
Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner said the session had fantastic execution and drives.
“We keep on fighting and today we’ve had a good result.”Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner.
Grosjean’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen said there was nothing to be disappointed about after qualifying, potentially a sly allusion to the team’s major step back from previous seasons, where they’ve, at times, contested the front of the midfield.
“It’s good to have both cars in Q3 again,” Magnussen said. May’s Spanish Grand Prix was the last time that Haas got both cars through to Q3.
Despite the lack of points this year, which has left the team P9 in the Constructors Championship, at least one of their cars has been a regular fixture of qualifying.
For example, Grosjean qualified 9th and 10th in the recent Russian and Japanese Grands Prix while Kevin Magnussen reached Q3 in the first seven rounds of 2019, apart from one.
Haas’ main problems this season have arisen during the Grands Prix. This year, they’ve only recorded seven points finishes – four for Magnussen and three for Grosjean.
Speaking in Russia earlier this year, Grosjean told Formula 1’s official website the biggest problem was the correlation between the team’s wind tunnel data and on-track performance.
He also pointed out how they haven’t performed badly in qualifying because the first area where correlation impacts them is tyre life. “And if you’re lacking the ultimate downforce you’re going to struggle with a car [on tyres that are] 14-laps old,” he told F1.com.
That performance drop-off during other Grands Prix has left both Haas drivers wary about what results Sunday’s race in Sao Paulo can bring.
“Tomorrow might be a different day,” Grosjean commented. He insisted that whatever happens, the team would take pleasure from the qualifying result.
On the other side of the garage, Magnussen said the team’s qualifying result showed they “might have something to fight with” on Sunday. But, Magnussen clearly wasn’t fully convinced.
“I’ll be more surprised if we can finish it off tomorrow, we know we struggle a little bit with tyre management in the race,” he added.