Haas’ strong pace during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend is likely to continue into Sunday’s race but is not the result of the team finding a fix for its tire issues, according to Romain Grosjean.
A strong pre-season and impressive performance in Australia raised expectations that Haas could challenge for fourth in the constructors’ championship this season, but since then the team has failed to score a point as it has struggled to make its tires work over a race distance. Grosjean believes the Barcelona circuit will ensure Haas remains competitive after qualifying close to Red Bull on the fourth row, but he warns the US-owned team still has to understand a way of producing consistently.
“In the race normally the gap (to Red Bull) is bigger and they’re probably going to pull away,” Grosjean said. “If we can have a very boring one in seventh and eighth and if anything happens up the order that would be perfect for the team.
“Race pace should be fine. It’s very hot — there’s a lot of energy going into the tires; I think we’re going to be OK. The underlying issue is still there, so there’s still a lot of work to be done for Monaco and Canada, but for tomorrow I’m not worried.
“It’s Formula 1 and Pirellis — you never know! Yesterday some cars behind us showed some promising race pace. I’m thinking McLaren; Toro Rosso is always super-fast on race pace on Friday so they probably run less fuel, but I haven’t really gone into too much detail about who was fast and who wasn’t.
“I was pleased with the balance of the car, I think we’ve improved since yesterday. All in all I think we’re in a decent place.”
During FP3, Haas even looked capable of beating Red Bull in qualifying in Spain, and Grosjean believes he left a bit of lap time on the table on his final run.
“In Q3 I did my lap with a scrubbed tire, it wasn’t new. So maybe with a new tire I could have been closer, but on the last lap I just tried too hard. I think I had a bit more — I probably had a couple of tenths or maybe three tenths there.
“I had new tires for the last run, maybe track temperature went up a little bit and I was too fast on the out lap, so I started with tires that were a little bit too hot… I was a bit too optimistic in Turn 1, still managed to gain time but just hurt the tires too much for the rest of the lap, but it was fun!”