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Haas F1 Has Busy Final Day In Spain

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 11 2018

Romain Grosjean and his Haas F1 team had a busy final day of testing in Spain. (Andy Hone/LAT Images)

Haas F1 Team lead driver Romain Grosjean closed-out the final session of preseason testing for the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship with _ what else? _ a RUSH.

Grosjean scripted a new preseason testing benchmark for American-owned Haas F1 with 181 laps completed Friday at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. That also was the highest lap-count of the day among 12 drivers participating on the 2.892-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn layout in Spain. Force India’s Esteban Ocon was next-busiest with 163 laps completed, 18 short of Grosjean’s mark.

“It’s been a long day, but it’s been brilliant,” said Grosjean, driver of the No. 8 Ferrari-powered Haas VF-18. “We did a lot of work with the car, which is really good. I managed to get a lot of laps in on the last day, which we missed earlier on in the test (due to wintry weather conditions). The team did a great job. We’ve got a lot of knowledge now for Melbourne. I’m looking forward to being there.”

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 25 in Melbourne is the first of 21 races in 2018. Practice is set to begin on March 23 with qualifying on March 24. The globetrotting schedule includes Round 18 as the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, from Oct. 18-21. 

Grosjean’s teammate, Kevin Magnussen, set the team’s previous best single-day total of 153 laps-completed on Thursday. Prior to this year’s winter test, the highest single-day lap tally by any Haas F1 Team driver during preseason testing was 119 circuits by Grosjean, set exactly one year ago.

I think we got as much out of the last two days as we could,” said Team Principal Guenther Steiner, who has overseen every session of testing run by American industrialist Gene Haas’ third-year team. “Today, we got a race distance in during the morning and another one in the afternoon. That’s what you want. The more you run, the more you learn.”

The 181 laps logged by Grosjean translated to 523.452 miles/842.555 kilometers, which brought the Frenchman’s two-week testing total to 314 laps/908.240 miles/ 1,461.67 kilometers. Magnussen recorded 381 total laps/1,102.033 miles/1,773.55 kilometers during the same time frame, as Haas F1 racked up an impressive 695 laps/2,010.57 miles/3,235.22 kilometers overall for the 2018 preseason.

In addition to his laps run Friday, Grosjean displayed speed _ his quick time of 1-minute, 18.412-seconds placing fifth overall. That lap was completed on Grosjean’s 87th tour in the VF-18 riding on Pirelli’s P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 F1 World Driving Champion from Finland, set the day’s quickest time at 1:17.221.

Magnussen’s quick time of 1 minute, 18.360-seconds Thursday in the No. 20 VF-18 was not only his best circuit of the entire two-week test. That hot lap also placed Magnussen second to Ferrari superstar Sebastian Vettel’s quickest time of 1:17.182, as the four-time F1 World Driving Champion from Germany paced a field of 13 drivers participating in the week’s penultimate session. Vettel also logged the day’s most laps with 188.

Haas, team founder and chairman, stated during a preseason interview his team needed to close the competitive gap to Ferrari _the famed and flamboyant Italian organization with whom Haas F1 shares a power unit, gearbox and overall technical support.

Additionally, this two-week preseason test marked the debut of all 2018 cars featuring the FIA-mandated “halo” frontal cockpit protection device.

On Wednesday, Grosjean added 78 laps/225.576 miles/363.09 kilometers to the 55 circuits he logged on Feb. 26, the opening day of testing. Grosjean’s quickest time was 1:20.237 on his 25th lap shod on a set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires. While that placed the 31-year-old Frenchman eighth among 14 drivers who turned laps, it was then Haas F1 Team’s fastest time in 2018 testing.

Magnussen began Week 2 of testing Tuesday by logging 96 laps/274.740 miles/442.225 kilometers with a best time of 1:21.298, sixth-quickest of the session. The 25-year-old from Roskilde, Denmark, was eager to build upon his 132-lap total from the previous week’s test, which was disrupted by wintry weather.

Ferrari’s Vettel set Tuesday’s quickest time at 1:20.396 and ran the most laps, 171.

Haas F1 Team’s totals for the first week were 187 laps/540.893 miles/870.485 kilometers, with Magnussen accounting for 132 laps/381.807 miles/ 614.46 kilometers.

Grosjean has been with Haas F1 Team since its debut in 2016, with 2018 marking his seventh full season in the series. Magnussen returns to the same team for the first time in his career after spending single seasons with McLaren (2014) and Renault (2016), respectively.

The VF-18 is an evolution of the team’s second car, the VF-17, which carried Haas’ organization to an eighth-place finish in the 2017 constructors standings. Grosjean and Magnussen combined to score 47 points in the VF-17 during Haas F1’s sophomore season, 18 points more than the total earned in the organization’s debut campaign in 2016.

Beyond refinement of the previous car, the VF-18 carries the significant addition of the halo and a drastic reduction in the sharkfin.

Haas F1 Team is based at the same North Carolina campus that houses Stewart-Haas Racing, the championship-winning NASCAR Cup Series organization Haas co-owns with retired three-time champion Tony Stewart.

Founded by Haas in 1983, Haas Automation, Inc., is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools and the team’s primary sponsor. Haas Automation employs approximately 1,300 at its 1.1-million square-foot/102,000 square-meter headquarters in Oxnard, Calif. Haas Automation exports its machines to more than 60 countries through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 11 2018
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