Motorsport 2 years ago

F1: Solid start for Haas F1

  • F1: Solid start for Haas F1

    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico and Haas F1 talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Haas F1 drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and teammate Romain Grosjean completed Friday’s two 90-minute practice sessions to begin dialing in their racecars for qualifying on Saturday and the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday.

Both drivers ran the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires exclusively in FP1, which featured a slippery track surface amid cool temperatures.

Their first runs at full tilt were interrupted by a red-flag stoppage with less than an hour remaining when the front wing of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber disintegrated, scattering debris across the exit of turn 11.

Grosjean was 13th fastest at this point with eight laps on the board, his best being a 1:24.415. Gutiérrez was 18th quickest after running seven laps, with a best time of 1:24.993.

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Once the red flag was lifted, Grosjean and Gutiérrez went back to work, using the remainder of FP1 to enhance the balance of their respective Haas VF-16s. They continued on the same program, returning to the 4.304-kilometer (2.674-mile), 17-turn circuit on a new set of Yellow softs.

Each driver completed two stints before the end of the session. Grosjean made a seven-lap run on the new softs followed by a six-lap run on used softs. Gutiérrez performed two eight-lap runs using the same tire strategy.

Grosjean’s best time of the session was a 1:22.500, earned on his 14th lap. Gutiérrez’s best time in FP1 was a 1:22.910, secured on his 15th lap. Grosjean ran a total of 21 laps and Gutiérrez tallied 23 laps, and they ranked 11th and 15th fastest, respectively at the end of the session.

Two-and-a-half hours later, cars returned to the track for FP2.

Gutiérrez headed out straight away for flying laps on a new set of Yellow softs. Grosjean, meanwhile, was confined to the garage after his installation lap revealed an irregularity with his car’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit). Troubleshooting the problem took some time, to the extent the floor of the car needed to be removed. Eventually, the ECU was replaced, the car was put back together and Grosjean was able to get on track, albeit with only 26 minutes remaining in FP2.

While this was going on Gutiérrez was making the most of his drive on his home turf. Twenty-six minutes into the session, he was atop the charts in the speed trap with a top speed of 360.1 kph (223.8 mph).

After turning seven laps on the Yellow softs, Gutiérrez donned a set of Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires as he and the team switched to their qualifying setup. Despite the supersofts being the grippiest tires in Pirelli’s lineup, Gutiérrez struggled to find traction. Oversteer was his biggest challenge and upon going wide at turn one with six laps on the supersofts, Gutiérrez returned to the garage.

With a used set of Yellow softs, Gutiérrez returned to the track with a tick over 30 minutes remaining. A mock pit stop was performed with less than 15 minutes to go, and Gutiérrez ran the rest of the session on a used set of Red supersofts. His best time was a 1:22.408, earned on his 10th lap, which placed him 22nd overall.

When Grosjean returned to the track, he went directly into qualifying mode. With Red supersofts under him, Grosjean wrangled all he could from his truncated session. He made a four-lap run before coming back into the pits, as it was nearly impossible to find a large enough gap on the racetrack to make a clean lap. With time in short supply, the team made a handful of adjustments to the car, including filling it with fuel. The Red supersofts stayed on, and Grosjean knocked down 10 more laps before the session ended. His best time was a 1:22.105, earned on his fourth lap to place him 20th overall.

Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 91 laps – 35 by Grosjean and 56 by Gutiérrez.

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