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Haas F1 Team Has Rebounding On Its Mind

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 30 2018

The pits were the pits for Haas F1 last Sunday in the season-opening Formula One race in Melbourne, Australia. The team will be looking for redemption on April 8 in Bahrain. (Photo courtesy of Haas F1)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Basketball is not the only sport in which rebounding is important. It can be in auto racing as well and it will be for the Haas F1 Team this weekend in Bahrain.

Last weekend in Australia, the America-based team was enjoying the most heady couple of days in the team’s 42-race existence as both of its drivers qualified in the top seven, and, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo incurring a three-spot grid penalty, the Haas F1 Team duo moved up to fifth and sixth, filling out the third row for the start of the race.

When Australia – and the 2018 season – went green, Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were running in the top five and remained there during their first stints.

But then, during pit stops, both Haas cars suffered race-ending incidents. Both had pit crew members cross thread wheel nuts. Both left the pits. Both rolled to a halt on the track. Weekend over for both.

The team announced that nobody would lose their jobs over the pit stop stumbles. “For sure, it’s difficult, but that’s racing,” team principal Guenther Steiner said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. There are moments like this, with real downs.”

“As a team, we made mistakes. We had too much work to do on the car and didn’t practice enough. I think the key to all of this is to get the practice in before the race so that we’re prepared for all aspects of the race.”

Grosjean said, yes, there was disappointment in the aftermath. But he also said, “Well, put it this way – I’d rather retire fighting for fourth or fifth position than finishing every race in 15th position.”

The worst part of the situation was also its best part: The pit-road incidents ended a great weekend but, the weekend was truly great.

“It was very comforting,” Steiner said of the speed his cars and drivers showed in Melbourne. “I was optimistic, but cautiously. I’m still cautious. One race doesn’t make a full season. We need to be humble and just keep on working hard. We have to try to do the same as we did in Australia, as we did in testing, not lose focus, but just keep on going, and I’m sure we’ll achieve similar results.”

The rebounding begins next Sunday at the 3.363-mile Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

The circuit in the desert is wide and, sans walls, allows drivers to push harder.

“Bahrain is a much better circuit for overtaking than Australia,” Magnussen said. “I don’t think we’re going to have as many negative comments about a boring race in Bahrain because the track layout is a lot better for racing and overtaking. I’m sure we’ll see an exciting grand prix.”

The word spoken most often about Bahrain and the chances of being as fast or faster than at Melbourne is “cautious”.

“I’m not taking anything for granted,” Magnussen said of being able to race with the leaders again on April 8. “Again, we have a good car, but I’m cautious. We’ll take it one race at a time.”

Said Steiner, “I would say I’m still cautiously optimistic. I would never be arrogant and say, ‘Oh we will do the same in Bahrain,’ but, for sure, we will try to do the same. The car showed speed in Barcelona and Melbourne. There is a point, maybe after China, where we will really know where we are.”

A strong rebound in Bahrain, if not mandatory for the Haas team, is highly important. It will determine if the competitiveness that it displayed in Australia was a one-off or a sign that Haas F1 has, in year three of its existence, taken a huge step in the right direction.

“It would be great to have a good result in Bahrain after such big disappointment in Australia,” Magnussen said. “We’ve got to start building points, as we’ve fallen behind after Australia. We’ve got to catch up.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 30 2018
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