On a track where passing comes at a premium and qualifying takes on added significance, Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen scored the American outfit’s first double-points result in the 75th Monaco Grand Prix Sunday at Circuit de Monaco. The duo finished eighth and 10th, respectively, in the sixth round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship after earning strong starting spots in qualifying Saturday.
Grosjean began the 78-lap race around the historic 3.337-kilometer (2.074-mile), 19-turn street course from eighth in the 20-car field while Magnussen was 11th. These up-front starting spots earned Saturday set the stage for Sunday’s milestone performance, as the track’s incredibly tight layout, which has remained relatively unchanged since 1929, makes overtaking nearly impossible.
The usually chaotic start was relatively calm by Formula One standards and Grosjean held onto his well-earned eighth-place position. Magnussen, meanwhile, outdueled the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat to pick up ninth. And when seventh-place Force India driver Sergio Perez pitted for a new front wing on lap 16, Grosjean inherited seventh and Magnussen moved up to eighth.
Both Haas F1 Team pilots were on a one-stop strategy, and each began the race on Pirelli P Zero purple ultrasoft tires. Despite these tires being the softest and, theoretically, having the shortest lifespan of any tire in Pirelli’s lineup, teams were able to put an inordinate number of laps on the ultrasofts.
For Haas F1 Team strategists, the time to pit would be determined by a combination of tire wear and where its drivers were on the racetrack in relation to other teams. Ideally, Grosjean and Magnussen would have enough of a gap between their rivals to enter and exit the pits without losing position.
Magnussen was first into the pits on lap 37 and Grosjean made his stop on lap 40. Both took on Red supersoft tires, per the regulations stating that a minimum of two tire compounds must be used during the race.
The stops slightly jumbled the running order, with Grosjean emerging in ninth and Magnussen in 10th at lap 42. The always-quick Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton jumped up to sixth during this time, as he still hadn’t made his obligatory stop after starting the race an uncharacteristic 13th.
Misfortune struck Magnussen on lap 42 as a left-rear tire puncture sent him back to the pits for an unscheduled stop. He returned to the race on the preferred ultrasoft tire, but was mired back in 13th.
Grosjean, meanwhile, moved up to eighth on lap 43 when Stoffel Vandoorne pitted his McLaren.
After adversity bit Magnussen, he began to benefit from the attrition of others. It began on lap 60 when Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber was overturned at the entry to Portier (turn eight) just ahead of the tunnel after contact with the McLaren of Jenson Button. This resulted in a full-course yellow which bunched up the field.
Racing resumed on lap 66 and immediately 10th-place Vandoorne went wide at Sainte Devote (turn one), hitting the barrier and ending his race. This allowed Magnussen to move up to 12th.
Then on lap 72, Perez made an aggressive move on Kvyat at Rascasse (turn 18). The two collided, with Kvyat’s day coming to an end and Perez forced to make and unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. This encounter boosted Magnussen to 10th and back into the points.
For the remaining six laps, Grosjean maintained eighth and Magnussen held onto 10th. It was Grosjean’s third point-paying finish of the season and Magnussen’s second. The double-points finish came in just Haas F1 Team’s 27th race, as the team debuted at last year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
“It’s the first time we’ve had two cars in the top-10, so that’s really good, especially in Monaco." said Grosjean "It was a tough race. We didn’t have the pace to stay with the first few guys. Unfortunately, nothing was happening at the front, it was all behind me. Every time a car retired it was behind me. Lewis (Hamilton) had some free air, and then managed to jump us at the pit stop. It’s great to have the two cars in the points. We managed to stay out of trouble and I drove as fast as I could. There’s a lot more we need to analyze and understand, but we’re growing as a team.”
Added Magnussen,“Personally, I had a very disappointing race. I had a puncture, but to still finish in the points with both cars is a really good job from the team. They really deserve this. I’m happy we got it. Even though it’s just one point, it could’ve been a lot more. I feel like I’ve had the most unlucky season of my life, but at least today we got both cars in the points and I’m proud of the team for that. It’s Monaco, and a lot of things can happen. There’s no reason to give up, you still push, and that’s what I did. I kept pushing.”
Haas F1 Team is now seventh in the constructors standings, tied with the factory Renault team with 14 points apiece. Sixth-place Williams is just six points ahead and eighth-place Sauber is 10 points back. Grosjean and Magnussen are 12th and 13th, respectively, in the driver standings. Grosjean has nine points and Magnussen has five.
Winning the Monaco Grand Prix was four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel. It was the 45th career Formula One victory for the Scuderia Ferrari driver, his third of the season and his second at Monaco. Vettel’s margin of victory was 3.145 seconds over teammate Kimi Räikkönen and it significantly bolstered his lead in the championship standings. Vettel came into Monaco with a six-point lead over Hamilton and leaves with a 25-point margin.
The Monaco win was Scuderia Ferrari’s first at Monaco since 2001 and it allowed the iconic marque to overtake Mercedes in the constructors standings. Scuderia Ferrari now leads Mercedes by 17 points with 14 races remaining.
Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action June 9-11 for the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
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