Haas F1 Team – the first American Formula One team in 30 years – kicked off the weekend with two 90-minute practice sessions (FP1 and FP2). It marked the first time an American Formula One team had turned a wheel on American soil since the 1986 Detroit Grand Prix when Eddie Cheever and Alan Jones raced for Team Haas, which despite the name has no relation to Haas F1 Team. Industrialist Gene Haas owns Haas F1 Team while the late Carl Haas owned Team Haas.
Grosjean’s best time in FP1 was a lap of 1:40.826 around the 5.513-kilometer (3.426-mile), 20-turn circuit, which put him 14th overall. It came on his 10th tour of the track. Gutiérrez slotted just behind his teammate with the 15th fastest time – a 1:40.970 earned on his ninth lap.
Both drivers were on the exact same program with each logging 15 laps, all exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire.
The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were fastest in FP1, with Hamilton’s quick lap of 1:37.428 besting Rosberg by .315 of a second.
As the sun shined over Circuit of the Americas, temperatures rose from a range of 17-20 degrees Celsius (63-68 degrees Fahrenheit) in FP1 to 21-23 degrees Celsius (70-73 degrees Fahrenheit) in FP2.
Speeds rose too, and the vibrations sustained by Haas F1 Team’s cars as they rumbled over the track’s five-year-old surface brought new challenges to light. Grosjean dealt with some technical issues while Gutiérrez lost some aerodynamic pieces of his car. This led to Grosjean clocking in with the 18th-fastest time (1:39.554) on his 11th lap and Gutiérrez putting up the 20th-quickest time (1:40.114) on his 10th lap. The duo completed 24 and 26 laps, respectively, with their best times coming on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire.
Leading the way in FP2 was Rosberg, whose quick time of 1:37.358 was .194 of a second better than next best Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 80 laps – 39 by Grosjean and 41 by Gutiérrez.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“Not a very positive day for us as we’ve been struggling with some technical problems with the car. The balance was not too bad, but we just didn’t get the performance. There will be a lot of work tonight. Looking at the data, we have to try and get the best out of the tires. It’s such a cool track to drive, but we just didn’t manage to get it right today. Hopefully, we’ll have everything sorted for FP3.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It wasn’t an easy day for us. Unfortunately, I had an issue with some aerodynamic parts. It disrupted our program as you get a shift on the car balance, which is obviously not ideal to get a reference and work on the setup. We’re investigating this, but we believe it’s down to vibrations. We now have some work to do to put the car together and try to optimize what we have at the moment. We’re going to be working very hard tonight with everything that we have. Hopefully, tomorrow is going to be a better day for us.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“Not a great first outing for us here. We had a series of small issues – the main one being the rear brake drum’s winglets falling off the car. It seems that the loads are very high and we need to fix this before we head into FP3 tomorrow. If things like this happen, your test program goes all up in the air and the data you collect isn’t any good as you’re missing aero numbers. We’ll keep on working on it and try to be as ready as we can for tomorrow.”
Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (10:00-11:00) before qualifying starts at 13:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 16 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.