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Glitches Arise For Haas F1 In Barcelona Test

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 2 2017

Romain Grosjean took laps in the Haas F1 car during Wednesday’s test session at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. (Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Haas F1 Team lead driver Romain Grosjean logged his first test laps of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship season Wednesday during a “methodical” session plagued by setup and electrical issues at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Grosjean, who returns for his second season with Gene Haas’ American-owned team, recorded 56 laps around the 2.892-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn layout in Spain. Grosjean’s quickest time was 1 minute, 22.118-seconds on his 49th lap while riding on a set of Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires.

That time placed the 30-year-old Frenchman eighth among the 13 drivers participating during a day-long session topped by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at 1:19.705-seconds. Bottas, of Finland, exited Williams F1 Team during the offseason to replace reigning World Driving Champion Nico Rosberg after the German’s unexpected retirement at the end of the 2016 campaign. Bottas now is paired with three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain.

Grosjean tallied 161.979 miles/260.68 kilometers in the second generation No. 8 VF-17 after new teammate Kevin Magnussen tested the No. 20 car on Monday and Tuesday. Magnussen, who has replaced Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico, logged the fourth-quickest time Tuesday at 1:22.204-seconds on his 103rd of a team-record 118 laps shod with Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires. On Monday, the 24-year-old Dane posted his best lap of 1:22.894-seconds on his 44th of 51 laps on a new set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires.

“It hasn’t been an easy day as we had a few issues here and there,” Grosjean said. “We didn’t do as many laps as we planned to. We didn’t complete our program. On the setup, I don’t think we’ve found where we want to be exactly, so there are a few things we need to work around and understand. Generally, these cars are going to be pretty cool to drive _ going fast into the high-speed, braking late and carrying quite a bit of speed through the corners, which is good.

“I think Pirelli has made a decent step with the tires, the way you can push three laps in a row. I’m just a bit disappointed we didn’t get more mileage, especially with tomorrow being the planned wet day.”

Grosjean began the morning session with reconnaissance laps on Yellow soft tires before transitioning to White medium tires for some timed laps until the mandatory lunch break. His best run of the morning was a 1:25.133-seconds on his 22nd lap, placing him 10th overall.

After logging 27 laps in the morning, Grosjean knocked out 29 laps in the afternoon. He began with White mediums and then switched to Yellow softs before a stint on Red supersofts in the last 15 minutes, which helped produce Grosjean’s quickest time. A brief, three-lap run on a used set of Yellow softs capped the day.

“Not a perfect day. We expected more, but again, it’s testing,” Team Principal Guenther Steiner said. “We need to keep our heads up and try to do better tomorrow. We know that we can do it and that’s why we’re here to test. We had some various issues and we played a lot with the setup. We had a few electrical problems, with which we lost time. There’s always little gremlins which can cause you to stop for half an hour, an hour, and if that happens the day goes by quickly and you don’t do a lot of running. It can always be worse, and thankfully we had a good day (Tuesday).”  

Grosjean will return to the Haas VF-17 Thursday to finish out the first week of testing, which will feature simulated wet-weather conditions. Drivers will sample the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full-wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire.

After a four-day break, teams will reconvene in Barcelona for the second and final round of preseason testing March 7-10. Magnussen will drive on March 7 and 9, and Grosjean will test on March 8 and 10. The season-opener is set for March 26 in Melbourne, Australia.

The VF-17 was built under a new set of technical regulations featuring an advanced aerodynamic package designed to create a higher level of downforce. A wider front wing, larger barge boards, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width comprise the changes. Also featured are wider tires from Pirelli by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear, a 25-percent increase to bring the front tires to 305 millimeters (12 inches) and the rear tires to 405 millimeters (15.9 inches).

Led by Grosjean, the VF-16 carried Haas F1 Team to an eighth-place finish in the 2016 Constructor standings. Grosjean and Gutierrez scored 29 points in their VF-16s during Haas F1’s inaugural season, largest point haul by any new Formula One team during this millennium.

Businessman/racer Haas, chairman of Haas F1 Team, also is the founder of Haas Automation, the organization’s title sponsor. Along with retired three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart, Haas also is co-owner of Kannapolis, N.C.-based Stewart-Haas Racing. That multiple championship-winning outfit opened the 2017 season Sunday at Daytona International Speedway with Kurt Busch’s victory in the Daytona 500, SHR’s first race with Ford Motor Company after a switch from Chevrolet Racing.

Haas’ globetrotting F1 organization _ the first American-owned team to compete in the series in 30 years _ made its debut in testing at Barcelona one year ago with a well-defined combination of racing and marketing objectives touting Haas Automation’s complete line of California-based vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers.

While colors from the original F1 car were carried over to the VF-17, the overall scheme is different. A dark gray makes up the majority of the livery, with tones of red, black, white and light gray.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 2 2017
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