Spanish Grand Prix – Romain Grosjean qualified a sterling P7 at Catalunya on Saturday, and is hopeful of strong race pace.
Haas have had a tumultuous start to 2019, with decent qualifying results marred by poor race pace as the team openly struggled with utilising the Pirelli tyre compounds.
With updates in place for this weekend’s race, Haas’ pace has re-emerged in qualifying as Romain Grosjean & Kevin Magnussen finished as best of the rest behind the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari & Red Bull Racing.
With the gap in front of them smaller than the gap behind them to P9 Daniil Kvyat, Romain Grosjean was smiling after claiming P7: “When you look at the gap behind us, it’s pretty impressive at a track where everyone knows so well. We can always be happy where we are. Pierre [Gasly] is up to speed with Max [Verstappen] at Red Bull now it’s much harder to steal another place.”
Haas initially went into qualifying looking as though they could realistically challenge Red Bull for slightly higher positions, but the RBR cars were able to eke out a few tenths on them in Q3. Asked to explain where that pace may have come from, Grosjean explained that it was probably down to differing fuel loads flattering the Haas team: “Probably fuel load, Red Bull always tend to find a little more in qualifying. The big teams had a bigger gap in qualifying so it was probably down to the midfield using a little less fuel.”
“I’d expect them to pull away on race pace, and for us to be fighting for P7 & P8.”
Explaining his last qualifying run where he closed the gap to Pierre Gasly to just 0.2 seconds, he said that he could have been even closer had he not pushed too hard on his outlap: “I had new tyres for the last run but used them up a little on the outlap by going too fast. They were a little bit hot then starting the lap. I still gained time on that run but hurt the tyres too much for the rest of the lap.”
With Haas fast here at a track where they looked very impressive in pre-season testing, Grosjean insisted that the Catalunya circuit isn’t flattering their performance specifically: “Our pace is not specific to here. We were fast in Australia too – it’s more a case of when we get the tyres to work. In the next few events with softer compound tyres, that’ll help. But there is still work to be done.”
“We’ve a lot of work to do for Monaco & Canada, but I expect us to be OK tomorrow.”