Haas F1 Team: Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying Recap

Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 13th and 16th, respectively, for the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka Circuit. However, a grid penalty incurred by 10th-place qualifier Fernando Alonso means that Magnussen will start 12th.

Magnussen set the 15th-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:30.774 around the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track. Grosjean was 16th quickest with a lap of 1:30.849. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.  

Grosjean was on a flying lap with under two minutes remaining in Q1 when a spin in turn five sent him off the track and hard into the barrier. Grosjean walked away unhurt, but his Haas VF-17 sustained heavy damage. The red flag was displayed with a minute and 18 seconds left in Q1, and the extensive cleanup process meant that the session could not be restarted.

In Q2, Magnussen earned the 13th-fastest time with a lap of 1:29.972. The top-10 drivers advance from Q2 to Q3.

Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire throughout qualifying.

Taking the pole for the Japanese Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:27.319 was .332 of a second better than runner-up and teammate Valtteri Bottas and it set a new all-time fastest lap at Suzuka, breaking the mark of 1:28.954 set by Michael Schumacher in 2006 during Q2 while driving for Scuderia Ferrari. It was Hamilton’s 71st career Formula One pole, his 10th of the season and second straight, but his first at Suzuka.

Before Magnussen, Grosjean and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track.

The Haas F1 Team duo performed identical programs. It began with a two-lap installation run on the White medium tire followed by a stint on Yellow softs, which was compromised by two separate red flag stoppages. Their final runs came on the Red supersofts, with the grippiest tires in Pirelli’s lineup allowing both drivers to secure their quickest FP3 times.

Magnussen ran a total of 12 laps and set the 14th-fastest time with a 1:30.982 on his penultimate lap. Grosjean logged 13 laps with his best time being a 1:31.459 on his 10th lap to put him 17th overall.

Quickest in FP3 was Bottas, whose time of 1:29.055 was a scant .014 of a second better than next best Hamilton.

Romain Grosjean “I’m OK. The first run was actually really good. I had a big moment into turn 11, which lost me a lot of time on Kevin. So, I think the car was capable of going into the top-10 in Q1. I went for the second run, doing pretty much the same thing, and the car just had a lot of oversteer for no reason. We need to analyze that. For sure, I attacked turn three a bit faster than I had on the previous lap, but nothing crazy. I just lost it there and tried to save what I could for turn four, but it was too late. I tried to keep it on track as much as I could, to avoid a crash, but I lost it a second time and had to go wide. Once I was on the grass, it was wet, so it threw me into the barrier.”

Kevin Magnussen “We have been stronger this weekend. The car, right away on Friday, felt better, more alive. That’s partly due to the track temperatures being down, so the tires are working a bit better, or at least it’s easier to make them work without overheating them. If you’re behind on downforce or grip, they don’t overheat as much when it’s cold, like it is here. That’s pushed us a little bit closer to the midfield. We expected to be P16, P17 in qualifying, and I’m P13, to eventually become P12 for tomorrow. So, I can’t be too unhappy with that. When it’s close like that though, you’d like that last bit, so it’s a bit frustrating not to get there. We’re still close to the points tomorrow. We’ll see if we can get in and score a few.”

Guenther Steiner “A tough day again, but it looks like Kevin is starting 12th tomorrow. That’s not a bad position to start here. We have to see with Romain just how big the damage is on his car and if we need to change something that will give us a penalty. Otherwise, a tough, long day for the whole team. It doesn’t seem that luck is on our side at the moment, but it will turn. We just have to look up and get ready for the race tomorrow, and try to at least get one car into the points.”

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