Again it was Esteban Gutierrez - a non-finisher in the season’s two opening rounds - who bore the brunt of the American team’s misfortune. He completed only installation laps in FP1 thanks to a gearbox sensor issue, and finished 21st in FP2 after rear brake problems restricted him to just four tours.
“It was a very difficult day,” reported the Mexican. “It’s going to be very important to analyze all the data this evening in order to sort out the issues and prepare for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend."
Gutierrez’s FP2 difficulties stemmed from a problem with the brake-by-wire system resulting in the brakes seizing and subsequently catching fire. He was unable to get back out on track, as the team had to change everything on the car’s back end.
"The team has been working hard and I’m positive that we’ll rectify the situation," he added. "I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
Team mate Romain Grosjean, Haas’s star in Australia and Bahrain, fared a little better, finishing 14th in first practice and 16th in the second session. However, the Frenchman and his engineers struggled with the VF-16’s aero and brake balance, and he was unable to find a proper comfort level.
“We had to try the new front wing, but the track is very difficult to understand,” commented Grosjean. “We’ve not managed to get everything working properly. The car is very difficult to drive. It’s not so easy. Tonight’s going to be a long night for the guys trying to analyze what we could do better for tomorrow.
“Right now, we’re not at all where we think we could be. We need to understand that and work with that. Today it hurt us that we’re a new team and we don’t have data from previous years. We’ve tried a few different things, but nothing seems to be the fix right now.”