Haas F1 Team entered the first round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship with plenty of optimism. Unfortunately, the second-year team left the season-opening Australian Grand Prix Sunday at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne disappointed after suffering a double DNF (Did Not Finish) with drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
The optimism came in the form of Grosjean’s sixth-place qualifying effort the day before. It was the best qualifying performance by a Haas F1 Team driver in all 22 of the team’s qualifying attempts, dating back to its debut in last year’s Australian Grand Prix. The fast lap around the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn circuit showcased the speed available from the Haas VF-17, and while Magnussen qualified 17th due to running wide at turn 12 on his qualifying lap, he too felt the potential of Haas F1 Team’s second-generation car.
Grosjean used that potential to his advantage at the start of the race, deftly holding off and then pulling away from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. The bottleneck at turn one allowed the Williams of Felipe Massa to get ahead, but Grosjean quickly settled into seventh. A water leak later derailed Grosjean’s run, sending him to the garage after 13 laps.
Magnussen’s first bout of misfortune came on the opening lap when contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson sent him into the turn-three gravel trap. Magnussen powered through the gravel and reemerged onto the track, albeit with a damaged front wing that necessitated a trip to pit lane. With a new wing and fresh tires, Magnussen returned to racing, but well down the running order. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a suspension issue likely stemming from the incident with Ericsson forced Magnussen to retire his racecar.
The end result left Magnussen 15th and Grosjean 20th in a race of attrition that saw five other drivers fail to finish.
Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix emphatically over three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. Vettel’s margin of victory over the Mercedes driver was 9.975 seconds. It was Vettel’s and Scuderia Ferrari’s first victory since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. The win was the 43rd of Vettel’s Formula One career and his second at Albert Park.
Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action for the Chinese Grand Prix April 9 at the Shanghai International Circuit.