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Haas F1 Team Gets In A Wet Workout In Spain

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 3 2017

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean drove practice laps in the wet on Thursday.

Simulated wet-weather lapping of tire-supplier Pirelli’s new/wider rubber added another element to Romain Grosjean’s workload Thursday, as American-owned Haas F1 Team closed the opening week of preseason testing for the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Grosjean completed a session-best 118 laps around the 2.892-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn layout in Spain in the second generation No. 8 Haas VF-17, easily eclipsing the 56 laps the 30-year-old Frenchman ran during his 2017 on-track debut Wednesday. The team’s returning lead driver, Grosjean ran through Pirelli’s full tire lineup during the morning and afternoon sessions as track conditions evolved.

“It’s been a productive day for us,” said Grosjean, paired this season with Kevin Magnussen of Denmark. “We managed to get some wet running, inter running, pit stop practice, dry running and trying a few setup changes that we had thought about overnight. The car is getting better and better. The team is doing a great job. Our pit stops looked pretty good. We’re trying to understand as much as we can.

‘Of course, this is winter testing and it’s never going to get close to the conditions we have over a race weekend but, generally, I think we’ve made some good progress. Hopefully, we can analyze all of that over the weekend and come back stronger next week.”

Grosjean’s 118 laps-completed computed to 341.313 miles/549.29 kilometers, 25 more laps than runnerup Kimi Raikkonen of Scuderia Ferrari. Raikkonen, the 2007 World Driving Champion during his first stint with Ferrari, posted the day’s quickest lap time at 1 minute, 20.872-seconds. Grosjean’s best lap of 1:22.309-seconds was fourth-quickest, while his 118 laps marked the second time Haas F1 Team recorded the most laps during four days of testing. Magnussen also ran 118 laps on Tuesday, 10 more than Räikkönen, who completed the second-most laps that day as well.

Grosjean and Magnussen combined to rack up 343 laps this week for a total of 992.122 miles/1,596.665 kilometers. The 24-year-old Magnussen, who has replaced Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico in team-founder Gene Haas’ lineup, logged 169 of those laps (488.83 miles/786.695 kilometers) on Monday and Tuesday, while Grosjean accounted for 174 laps (503.292 miles/809.97 kilometers) on Wednesday and Thursday.

All that added up to a highly productive week for Haas F1 Team, which became the first American-owned organization to compete in the globetrotting FIA-sanctioned series in 30 years when it made its debut in testing at Barcelona one year ago.

“Quite a good day today. We got a lot of data,” said Team Principal Guenther Steiner, who has overseen Haas’ testing and race-day programs from Day 1 last winter. “Romain was able to drive the car for longer stints and get a good feeling for it. We made good progress, even running on the wet, which was not ideal, but we made the best out of it. Now we need to get ready for test No. 2.”

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; Grosjean will test on March 8 and 10. The season-opener is set for March 26 in Melbourne, Australia.

As was the case last season, Haas F1 Team is a technical partner with Scuderia Ferrari, F1’s oldest and most glamorous organization. That arrangement with the factory in Maranello, Italy, includes the power unit, gearbox and mechanical components such as suspension and brake systems on the VF-17.

“Reliability has, obviously, been good,” Steiner said. “This year we’ve had very few and very small problems. Compared with last year, it’s been a lot better. That is how it should be. Ferrari did a very good job this year with the power unit package. It’s been very reliable. The engineers will now go over the data and the comments from the drivers, and out of that we will establish a test plan for next week. We know a lot more about the car now than we did four days ago. Now we can make the next step and hone it out, make it better.”

The simulated wet-weather running was designed to allow Pirelli engineers the opportunity to gauge how this year’s new/wider tire will perform. The current tires augment the 2017 technical regulations which feature a drastically different and advanced aerodynamic package designed to create a higher level of downforce. Tires are now 25 percent wider than they were in 2016, with the front tires increasing to 305 millimeters (12 inches) and the rear tires growing to 405 millimeters (15.9 inches).

To that end, a fully-soaked track greeted teams as testing began at 9 a.m. (local time). The Pirelli Cinturato Blue full-wet was the compound of choice to start the session, with Grosjean recording nine laps. As the sun rose and the track began to dry, teams transitioned to the Cinturato Green intermediate tire. Grosjean ran on intermediates for 26 laps, until the track was dry enough for slicks.

With a relatively dry track, Grosjean set out for an eight-lap run on a used set of Pirelli P Zero White medium tires. With less than 10 minutes remaining before the mandatory lunch break, the team bolted four new Red supersoft tires onto the Haas VF-17. Grosjean hit the track for five laps, securing his best time of the morning session on his 49th and final lap at 1:22.739-seconds. That placed him second overall, 0.434-seconds behind Räikkönen.

Water trucks doused the track again during the lunch break, forcing teams back onto the full-wet tire to start the afternoon session. Grosjean knocked out 69 laps in the day’s second half, smashing the 56 total laps he posted during Wednesday’s gremlin-plagued session.

Grosjean recorded nine laps on the full-wet tire, with 19 laps on the intermediate. By 4:20 p.m. (local time), the track was ready for a return to slicks and the team mounted four new White mediums on the Haas VF-17. During the swap from intermediates to slicks, crew members practiced numerous pit stops.

Riding on slicks for the day’s final 100 minutes, Grosjean tried different setup configurations. His best time of the afternoon also emerged as his quickest of the day _ the 1:22.309-second lap on his 111th circuit with a set of Red supersofts. That hot lap nicked his best time from the morning session by 0.430-seconds. The lap placed Grosjean fourth among the 10 drivers participating in the test.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 3 2017
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