If there’s one thing Haas needs it’s a clean weekend, with the squad still reeling from the significant pain inflicted in Canada. Qualifying was where the real damage was done, with Kevin Magnussen touching the wall of champions…
...before ricocheting off into the pit-wall, bringing out the red flags. And destroying the final Q2 soft run of his teammate Romain Grosjean.
In the race, the Swiss-French driver had to take avoiding action at Turn 1 and remove by hand debris from Alex Albon’s car. Grosjean finishing 14th, three spots up on Magnussen, who started from the pit lane.
The result is that Haas dropped from sixth to eighth in the standings, just three points ahead of Alfa Romeo. Fourth place, after Melbourne now a distant memory. Spain its only double points finish this year.
Haas’ season so far has been frustrating, absurdly so, says Magnussen. The team yet to get to grips with Pirelli’s tricky thinner tread tyres in race conditions. The Dane’s radio tirade in Canada, where he told the team it was his worst experience ever in a race car, a result not just of a setup gamble but the helplessness felt by the entire organisation.
“The whole team is insanely frustrated,” he said. “After all, we all know what the potential is, and then we get some tyres that do not fit our car at all, so you just get frustrated.”
It’s a long way from 2018, when the team finished fifth with 93 points. Its biggest-ever haul since joining the sport two seasons prior.
Its best result coming in Austria, when Grosjean and Magnussen finished in fourth and fifth respectively, behind race winner Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and the two Ferraris.
But to do that again, it’ll need not only luck but also a breakthrough with getting heat into the Italian rubber… something that affects Haas on high-speed circuits with long straights and low energy corners.
… such as those ahead in France, Austria, Great Britain and Germany… which could make for a nightmare mid-season.
So for now, Haas is stuck - in struggle town.