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Haas F1 Needs Brake In Barcelona

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 3 2016
Frenchman Romain Grosjean went off course during Thursday's Formula One test in Spain.  (File photo courtesy of Image Net)

Frenchman Romain Grosjean went off course during Thursday’s Formula One test in Spain. (File photo courtesy of Image Net)

The penultimate day of preseason testing for Haas F1 Team saw Romain Grosjean record the first “offs” in the VF-16 during a combined 78 laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

After teammate Esteban Gutierrez struggled through two problem-plagued days of testing that produced only 24 combined laps, Grosjean logged 225.61-miles/363.09-kilometers around the 2.89-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn circuit in the No. 8 VF-16. Fifty-nine of those laps were run in the morning session. A solid 40-lap stint included a pit stop for a new set of Pirelli P Zero White medium tires. But the run ended with Grosjean going off at Turn 4 while under braking, resulting in the session being red- flagged prior to the lunch break.

A mixed afternoon followed, as ongoing development of the car’s brake-by-wire system resulted in a stop/start session, with two further stoppages limiting Grosjean’s run time to 19 laps. The Frenchman rallied to set his best time of the day at 1-minute, 27.196-seconds on his 63rd lap on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire.

“Not an easy day _ not an easy week for us _ so far,” said Grosjean, formerly of Lotus F1 Team. “The first week of testing went very well. The second has been a bit tricky. We’ve had some challenges with the brake-by-wire system on the car, which has made things a bit complicated. However, we’re working on it. At the end of the day, I had an off on Turn 9. So it wasn’t the best finish, but I think now we know where to look to get the car back to where it should be. Hopefully, tomorrow is a much better day.”

Day 7 of the split, two-week test was paced by Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 World Driving Champion, at 1:22.7650-seconds for Scuderia Ferrari. Second-year F1 regular Max Verstappen of The Netherlands posted the most laps at 159 for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

“It’s been a challenging day,” said Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team. “However, we managed to get some running in, so that was a positive. We had some issues with the brake-by-wire system while trying to develop it. We’re still working on it and, therefore, it caused Romain to have a few offs, but this is what testing is about. We’re here to learn and, hopefully, we’ll be back out tomorrow to get some more laps in and understand the car better.”

Grosjean is scheduled to return to the No. 8 VF-16 Friday for the end of preseason testing. Once the track goes cold, 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.

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.

Haas F1 Team’s second week of preseason testing saw “an anomaly” with the turbocharger on the Ferrari 061 V-6 powerplant limiting Gutierrez to a single installation lap in the No. 21 car on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the native of Mexico was limited to 23 laps due to problems with the car’s fuel system.

Grosjean and Gutierrez combined to complete a total of 281 laps during the team’s historic 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.

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

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.

Germany’s Nico Rosberg posted Tuesday’s quickest lap in 1:23.002-seconds in his Mercedes, while the 18-year-old Verstappen ran a session-high 144 laps for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Haas F1 Team completed its 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 1:27.802-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 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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