Haas: ‘fake pole’, rusty radios and penalties in Monaco
The Americans seemed to have booked a stable seat among the top midfield teams: Monaco could have been one more good week for Gene’s squad, but radio “checks” firstly, and then stewards drawbacks told another story
The Haas weekend started in a mix of up and downs: black flagged (one of the rare apparitions of it in the last decades) immediately after the start of the FP1 suffering radio and telemetry issues; just 15 minutes were left when they both re-joined the pack on track. An 8th for Magnussen and a 10th was the aperitif for the Friday’s lunch.
The Danish Viking confirmed the matinée with the 7th time in FP2
(“So far everything’s going okay, and hopefully Q3’s a possibility”)
and an 11th for the Swiss-French
(“We didn’t really know what to expect coming here – obviously, last year here, it wasn’t our strongest race”)
The positions were almost fixed even in the last Practice: 8th again for Jan’s son and 13th for Romain.
In the most important qualifying session of the year, probably Gene’s team suffered the widest emotions among all the squads on the grid; from the #20 side of the garage smiles from ear to ear were among all over every member: with the 6th (transformed in a 5th after stewards decision) claiming the “Fake Pole Position” trophy, Magnussen had plenty of reasons for celebrating in the most glitterati night party:
“I had a really good car, I could push, I felt comfortable. I put a lot of stress on the guys in Q2 with the damage to the front wing in the session after I kissed the wall, they did a fantastic job to turn it around, fix it, and send me out again. I got into Q3 with a good lap, then did another one there. We know how important qualifying is at this track, so to get P6 at the front of the midfield again”
The #8 had a sad and tired release, being obstacled by Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and positioning only in the 13th slot on the Boulevard Albert 1er:
“At the end, traffic cost us the chance to move into Q3. I was clearly going to crash into Pierre (Gasly). It’s not his fault, we can’t see anything with these mirrors, we rely on the radio – and I don’t think he was warned on the radio by Red Bull. I’m obviously unhappy, and even though Gasly was penalized, it’s not his fault, and it’s not going to change my qualifying”
The race day saw a consistent pace in one of the best Monaco races of the latest years. Magnussen pitted early at the 9th lap, after a comfortable start just behind Ricciardo, catching up the lead of the mid teams’ cars. At the end great battle with Pèrez: double tunnel chicane cut for the Danish ended in an investigation through he was amended a five-second penalty time:
“I don’t really know what happened, it wasn’t the race we were hoping for today. We’ve done a very good job together this weekend. It was a perfect weekend until the race. It’s a big shame but we’ll see what went wrong today and why it happened”
Grosjean pitted at the 51st lap after having suffered one of the best overtakes of the weekend by Leclerc at the Rascasse corner. Even Romain suffered the same decision of the stewards after having caught the pit lane exit line, dropping to 10th:
“It’s a better result than we were expecting – that’s for sure. It’s been a good race. We tried a different strategy. I think the Toro Rosso of Albon stayed out a bit too long in front of us, and by the time we cleared, our tires were well worn. We did our best, we tried. It’s a shame I couldn’t end up in front of Sainz, because I think I’d have had much more pace at that time of the race. Then I got the penalty at the end. I’ll look at the footage. It’s close, I still think there’s a piece of my wheel touching the line, but I got the penalty. All-in-all though, it was yesterday that cost us good points today”
Can a stop-and-go track like Montreal inject confidence in veins at the Indiana headquarters? 2018 saw a blown Ferrari engine in time-attack session and 11th-12th race result, scrapping the point zone.