Romain Grosjean admits “it will be amazing” if Haas proves to be the fourth-fastest team this season after a strong start to the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
Having been the surprise package of pre-season testing and tipped to fight with the likes of Renault and McLaren for the title of best of the rest in Melbourne, Haas continued that form with Grosjean comfortably clear of the rest of the midfield in FP2. Sixth fastest on Friday afternoon, the Frenchman was 0.7s off the overall pace and half a second clear of Fernando Alonso in eighth, but when asked asked if he’s happy to be in “no man’s land” between the front three teams and the rest he replied: “We need to see if it’s really no man’s land and what has happened to the other teams.
“I haven’t seen exactly the running order and the red flag came probably at a time when some people were out there as well, like [Daniel] Ricciardo – I know he was out there when the red flag came.
“So no man’s land is not ideal but on the other hand Force India was pretty happy last year where they were. If we can end up in that position it will be amazing, but we’re fighting big teams – McLaren, Renault, Force India – and they’ve got a lot of experience and a lot of resources as well. It’s going to be an interesting fight and hopefully we can stay clear of them.”
Teammate Kevin Magnussen had a more disjointed day but was still ninth fastest in FP2 despite throttle pedal issues. Even with Grosjean’s result, Magnussen says Haas’ inconsistencies in the past make him wary of how the picture can change with wet weather forecast of the rest of the weekend.
“Even though it’s a grand prix track and it’s the first race, we are still cautious it’s FP2 and not qualifying,” Magnussen said. “But it’s good that we can see the car is running well and that the balance is good in the car. Neither me or Romain had a perfect day; particularly myself had lots of problems with the car and limited running.
“The first run I did properly going out of the pits without pitting straight after and cooling the tires down, etc., the first run I had going straight out and pushing straight away on the ultrasoft, the first lap was competitive and there’s a lot more in it. It was the first lap – I didn’t go to the limit of the car at all.
“That confirms that the car is at least working again here. It was in Barcelona, it’s working again here – that’s good, but last year we had some competitive races as well so the inconsistency from last year is what is making us cautious now I guess. But at least it’s positive so far.”