‘Tricky’ or ‘decent’? Grosjean and Magnussen at odds on Haas car performance in Austria
The Austrian Grand Prix was a race to forget for the Haas team, with both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean retiring their VF-20s with brake issues. But depending on which of those two drivers you ask, when running cleanly, the team’s new car is either a raceable machine capable of “decent pace” – or “the slowest car” currently on the grid.
With both drivers having struggled for pace in qualifying, leaving them 15th and 16th on the grid, issues with cooling the brakes at the hot, high altitude Red Bull Ring then put paid to Grosjean and Magnussen’s races in Austria.
Magnussen lost braking going up the hill into Turn 3 on Lap 24 of 71 before forcing his car into a spin, while Grosjean speared straight on at Turn 4 on Lap 49 before retiring.
But speaking to the media after the race, the two drivers differed on how their races had been up to that point…
“I was getting told all the time to do more and more lifting to save the brakes, and by the end of it, I was doing everything I could and they blew up,” said Magnussen, speaking while the race was still running. “It’s a shame, we were P11 and if it wasn’t for all that brake saving, I would have had decent pace.
“A lot of people are having problems… so it’s one of those races where I wish I would have been out there now.”
Unlike Magnussen, however, Grosjean – who also suffered a spin in his car while exiting Turn 4 – was less disappointed at having to take an early bath in Austria.
“The brake went,” said Grosjean of his retirement. “We were nursing them from Lap 1, looking after them but obviously something is not quite on the right level with the cooling so we’re going to work and sort that out for next week.
“[But] I think one of the main concerns was the pace. It seems to be the slowest car there, very tricky car to drive, especially in traffic. So we’re going to work, we’re going to keep our heads down and see what we can come up with.”
Both Haas drivers revealed ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix that they were confident the team had put processes in place to wheedle out the kinds of performance-related issues that blighted their 2019 season. And they’ll be looking to exploit those tools at their disposal to the maximum this week to avoid a repeat of their season-opening performance at next weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, held at the same track.