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Mechanical Bugs Bite Haas In Barcelona

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 3 2016
Testing in Spain turned up some problems with the American Haas F1 Team this week.

Testing in Spain turned up some problems with the American Haas F1 Team this week.

Haas F1 Team’s second round of preseason testing continued to be problem-plagued Wednesday, when “an anomaly” with the turbocharger on the No. 21 VF-16 limited Esteban Gutierrez to a single installation lap around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

Wednesday’s frustration came on the heels of a Tuesday practice limited to 23 laps by Gutierrez due to problems with the car’s fuel system.

“A little bit of a setback,” said Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team. “But what makes you suffer makes you stronger. We take a step back, but we hope to make two forward tomorrow.”   

The team headed by chairman Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, is the first American-based organization to compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship in 30 years. Haas F1 Team is based on the same Kannapolis, N.C., campus as Stewart-Haas Racing, multiple champions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean and Gutierrez combined to complete a total of 281 laps during the team’s first four-day preseason test at Barcelona last week, with the latter running a race simulation and live pit stop practices during Day 4 on Feb. 25.

Wednesday’s solitary installation lap around the 2.89-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn circuit was enough to diagnose a problem with the VF-16’s turbocharger, which had been changed overnight following Tuesday’s session. The team removed the turbocharger from the Ferrari 061 V-6 powerplant to properly source the issue, with the rest of the day spent preparing for an on-track return Thursday, the penultimate day of preseason testing.

“We changed the turbocharger last night and this morning on the installation lap we saw an anomaly,” Steiner said. “When the car entered the garage we decided to take the turbocharger off and check it to see what was going on. The aim was to get out again today. Obviously, that wasn’t possible and we didn’t manage any further running.

“These cars are very complex. However, everybody is working hard to get the car ready for tomorrow. We’re very positive we can achieve that and get us back on-track. We’ll keep on trying, we’ll keep working hard and then we’ll have success.”

While Gutierrez sat Wednesday, Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams posted the day’s quickest lap in 1 minute, 23.261-seconds. Carlos Sainz Jr. of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso logged the most laps at 166.

“As you can imagine, today has been a bit frustrating,” said Gutierrez, a native of Mexico and former Scuderia Ferrari test driver. “However, we’re working really well as a team to resolve the situation. Testing is about solving these issues ahead of the first race. The team has been doing a great job working very closely together, preparing the car day and night. I’m confident we’ll have a positive outcome for the rest of the test.”

On Tuesday, Gutierrez completed 23 laps/66.53-miles/107.065-kilometers with a best time of 1:26.661-seconds during his third run of the morning on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire, the favored compound for the majority of participants. The VF-16 sat-out the afternoon session as the team worked to rectify the problem with its fuel system.

“It wasn’t an ideal day as we had some technical issues,” Gutierrez said. “We wanted to do a lot of running and had setup work planned. However, we’re working on our solutions and focusing on the next few days so we can get our program completed. The team is working hard to solve the issues and I’m confident we will.”

Germany’s Nico Rosberg posted Tuesday’s quickest lap in 1:23.002-seconds in his Mercedes, while Max Verstappen of The Netherlands ran a session-high 144 laps for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Grosjean is scheduled to return to the No. 8 VF-16 Thursday and will remain in the car through the end of preseason testing on Friday. Once the track goes cold Friday, it will be only 13 days until Round 1 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship _ the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Practice begins March 18, with qualifying on March 19 and the race on March 20.

Haas F1 Team completed its historic, four-day preseason testing debut on Feb. 25 with Gutierrez running a race simulation and live pit stop practices at Circuit de Barcelona. Gutierrez completed 89 laps/257.21-miles/414.29-kilometers last Thursday, recording his fastest lap of the day _ at 1 minute, 27.802-seconds _ during the simulation period on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire compound.

Gutiérrez’s 89 laps-completed on Feb. 25 marked the team’s highest total around the Barcelona layout. Recording 26 of those laps during his morning outing on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire, Gutiérrez’s fastest lap before the midday break was a 1:29.088-seconds.

Grosjean, formerly of Lotus F1 Team, recorded his fastest lap of last week at 1:28.399-seconds in the team’s debut practice on Feb. 22. His 31 laps all were run on Pirelli’s P Zero White medium tire.  Gutiérrez was the sixth-quickest driver Tuesday with a best time of 1:25.524-seconds recorded on his 70th of 79 laps, when the VF-16 was shod on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire.

Grosjean’s best lap on Feb. 24 of 1:25.874-seconds also was run on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire, and was second-quickest of a session topped by German Nico Hulkenberg’s 1:23.110-second effort for Force India.

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, the four-time World Driving Champion from Scuderia Ferrari, paced the sessions on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23. Vettel topped the opening day time sheet at 1:24.939-seconds and lowered that mark to 1:22.810-seconds on Feb. 23.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 3 2016
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