RACE DEBRIEF

    Romain Grosjean was delighted with his qualifying performance in Russia as he put his Haas VF-19 ninth on the grid – five places higher than team mate Kevin Magnussen.

    That sterling qualifying performance, which will become eighth on the grid once Max Verstappen's engine penalty is applied, came after Grosjean finished P6 in Q2.

    “After Q2 I was like ‘come on, P6! We can do this, we can do this’ – maybe I was dreaming a bit too big, but we got P9, that’s good,” he said.

    Grosjean was also sixth in final practice, but when qualifying began he feared gusts might blow his hopes of a Q3 appearance away…

    Red Bull duo blame Sochi wind for disappointing qualifying

    “The car felt amazing in Free Practice 3, a little bit less at the beginning of qualifying – the wind picked up and we know that’s a weakness we have in the hybrid car. But eventually we removed some front flap and got somewhere, which was a good balance, so I’m happy.”

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Final Practice

    But for all his qualifying heroics, it’s not been an encouraging period of form for Haas. Grosjean sits on eight points, level with his lowest-scoring season – 2014, with Lotus – and he’s retired six times this year, more than anyone else. Furthermore, neither he nor team mate Kevin Magnussen have scored a point since they clashed in that chaotic German Grand Prix back in July.

    For Haas to overcome the tyre issue that has been plaguing them throughout the season, Grosjean is hoping that the clouds come out on Sunday.

    “I hope it’s not too sunny,” he said as it beamed down at Sochi. “Cloudy would be good enough for us – the sun doesn’t really help us. We’ll see – yesterday, race pace was encouraging, so I hope we get a good race tomorrow.”

    For team mate Magnussen, it was a wildly contrasting session as he failed to make it into Q3, leaving the Dane "pissed off" by his Saturday.

    The saving grace could be that our Friday Pace Analysis showed that Haas had more potential than Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso – who start further back.

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