Torrential rain kicked off Round 6 of the 21-race 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship, with the safety car pacing the field for the first seven laps prior to the green flag. All drivers began the 78-lap contest on the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire before transitioning to the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tire as the track began to dry. Then, as the sun began to peek through the clouds and a dry groove developed, teams began to call their drivers to the pits for slicks. Most opted for the new Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire, which heats up the fastest and provides the highest level of grip. Others chose the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft and even the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft.
Shortly after the race went green, Gutiérrez gained two positions to claim 10th. Grosjean augmented his teammate’s performance, rising from 15th to 13th.
Grosjean, however, soon had his race derailed when Kimi Raikkonen’s wounded Ferrari forced him to a halt while entering Portier. Raikkonen severely damaged the nose of his car after making contact with the barrier at the Grand Hotel Hairpin. He drifted into Grosjean’s path and stopped, forcing Grosjean to do the same. Grosjean had to put his car in reverse and wait for a clear racetrack before continuing. The lost track positon was devastating, as it dropped him deep in the field.
An ever-drying track brought a round of pit stops for Grosjean and Gutiérrez on lap 16, both of whom switched to the Green intermediates. Gutiérrez made the most of his tires, setting the fastest first-lap sector on lap 20 and then the fastest race lap eight tours later before others bettered his mark.
The second and final round of pit stops followed with a full dry line established. Grosjean was first to change to the Purple ultrasoft tire on lap 31, with Gutiérrez mirroring the move the next lap.
The remainder of Grosjean’s race was a tale of frustration, yet it didn’t deter his tenaciousness. Placed behind the Manor Racing entry of Pascal Wehrlein, Grosjean closed the gap to less than a second but was unable to pass due to wet, off-line conditions. Wehrlein was later dealt a pair of 10-second penalties – once for not staying above the minimum time set by the FIA ICU in Virtual Safety Car conditions and the second for ignoring the blue, move-over flags. With Manor taking the penalties after the checkered flag, Grosjean was classified 13th, two laps down.
Gutiérrez was passed by the leaders on lap 52 with his sights set on the Williams of Felipe Massa, who was 14 seconds ahead in 10th. Gutiérrez then survived a lock-up at the renowned Rascasse corner, having placed 31 laps on his tires. While he dropped to 12th on the penultimate lap, Gutiérrez was classified 11th at the finish, as the other Williams driver, Valtteri Bottas, was handed a 10-second penalty for causing a collision.
After six of 21 races, Haas F1 Team is eighth in the constructor standings with 22 points, two points behind seventh-place McLaren and 16 points ahead of ninth-place Renault.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Monaco Grand Prix to take his first win of the season, the 44th of his career and his second at Monaco. Hamilton crossed the stripe 7.252 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who started from the pole.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“Kimi (Raikkonen) pushed me into the barrier. I had to reverse and that was it. I lost my position and that was the end of my race. It was hard to keep going behind the Manor car. There was only one dry line and it was impossible to overtake. I did something like 60 laps behind the same car and tried everything I could. The good news is that the chassis worked well and we made a good setup. I was in front of Massa before the incident, so I think we could’ve scored points, which would’ve been amazing starting where we did.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It was a pretty difficult race. I’ve mixed feelings, as the first part was very good. We had a really great pace in the wet. However, when we changed to the ultrasoft, I was struggling to get the confidence from the car. It started to be a bit difficult and in Monte Carlo, when you don’t have the confidence, it pulls you back quite a lot. Overall, I think there are a lot of things we can learn as a team to try and find more consistency and understand the tires better, which was the main focus from today.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“It was a challenging race. A lot of things happening on track today but, unfortunately, not a lot helped us. We started off with Romain not being able to get passed Kimi’s damaged car, losing positions and then coming into a pit stop which wasn’t perfect. He was then so far behind. It’s very difficult here to get back to where you want to be. Esteban was very quick on the wets, but when we moved to the dry tires we lost position by position. Not a very successful weekend, but we will for sure get up again and try to do better in Canada.”
Round 7 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Practice begins June 10, qualifying takes place June 11 and the race runs June 12.