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F1 Australian GP: Grosjean stuns with ‘unbelievable’ sixth on Haas’ F1 debut

Haas claims a shock sixth place finish from 19th on the grid in its first maiden F1 race, courtesy of an inspired Romain Grosjean.
Romain Grosjean has described his and Haas' unexpected run to sixth position on its Formula 1 debut as 'unbelievable' after an astute strategic call saw it gather huge ground from 19th on the grid.

Making its much anticipated first F1 appearance at the Australian Grand Prix, though a bungled qualifying session saw Grosjean down on the penultimate row, he was showing positive pace in the VF16 as the American team focused on a long first stint.

Rising to ninth position as others peeled in ahead, Grosjean was preparing to make his stop – the last driver to do so – when the race was halted on lap 18. Essentially granting Haas its pit-stop for free given every team can change tyres for the restart, a switch to medium tyres would allow him to go to the end.

Resuming in ninth, Grosjean ascended up to sixth place at the expense of the retired Kimi Raikkonen, before benefiting from the pit-stopping Toro Rossos too. With Nico Hulkenberg unable to challenge in the Force India and Grosjean – who says there was no set-up work done on the car before the race - maintaining form, he would cross the line to complete spectacular result for the new American team.

“We had a good pace, we didn't do any set up work, we just put it on track. It stayed in one piece and went pretty quick, so quite impressive. We have confidence, we have a good baseline. It wasn't easy but with the limited amount of running this is unbelievable.”

Discussing whether he thought a sixth place finish could have been possible before the race, Grosjean said he was eyeing a possible point, but didn't expect such a haul so quickly.”

“I was thinking we could be between 15th and 10th and maybe scoring points. I said we will score points early in the season, but this is a lot of points early I the season. It feels like a win. It is a perfect day, we managed everything well, it is a beautiful day.”

Haas' result makes it the first all-new team to score on its F1 debut since Toyota in 2002, when Mika Salo finished sixth in Australia, albeit in a race with just seven finishers. Prior to that, only Sauber fared better with a fifth place on its 1993 debut.
by Ollie Barstow

Related Pictures

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20.03.2016 - Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW38 and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16
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March 20, 2016 11:26 AM

numiiii: No surprise for second-factory ferrari team. Ooopss
Come on. He started from the back of the grid, he would have been perhaps 3-4 places higher if not knocked out in Q1. He was lucky the red flag came out, but 6th place is a great and surprising result, with Gutierrez no way near to reach his pace. Manor is said to be the second factory Merc team, but they were dead last. So I don't understand your argument.


March 20, 2016 8:14 PM

It is a very good result especially when McLaren could only manage 14th in their second year of Honda power. It goes to show what a properly set up and financed team can do when they have taken the time to do things correctly. No new team can enter without the sort of support they have had it is simply not financially viable, you either do it like this or go away and do something else.

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