Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished 11th and 12th, respectively, in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday evening.
Grosjean started from 14th in the 22-driver field to finish 11th, one spot shy of a point-paying outcome. It was the team’s eighth 11-place finish of the year, with Grosjean collecting three of those results while Gutiérrez accounted for the other five.
Both Haas F1 Team drivers employed a two-stop strategy in the 55-lap race around the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn track. However, the two opted for different tire choices.
Grosjean began the race on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire, with the harder compound allowing him to stay out on the track longer than those who opted for the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire. Grosjean rose to as high as 10th before pitting at the end of lap 20 for another set of Yellow softs. He rejoined the race in 15th and climbed to 11th before making his final pit stop at the end of lap 38 for a new set of Red supersofts. The softer compound tire gave Grosjean the grip he needed to attack in the closing laps.
He maintained his 11th-place standing in the running order and set his sights on the McLaren of 10th-place Fernando Alonso. Despite being a second faster than the two-time Formula One champion with 10 laps to go, Grosjean could not close the gap and had to settle for 11th.
“We’ve had a wonderful season and surprised everyone, ourselves included, with some highs and some lows,” Grosjean said. “We didn’t score points today but if you take out the top-six cars of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, we’re only the third team behind, which is not that bad.”
“There are a lot of things we can improve through the winter, mainly about the tires. Clearly today there were some laps where my pace was amazing and the car felt really good when the tires were working. Then a few laps later things are going out of sync. It’s clear where we have to work. All the other teams are close to their limits where we have so much that we can improve on for next season. I’m looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Gutiérrez used the Red supersofts to start from 13th on the grid, and with the compound’s higher rate of degradation, he pitted at the end of lap eight for a new set of Yellow softs. These tires carried Gutiérrez to the end of lap 28, where he had climbed to 11th. This pit stop for another set of Yellow softs took Gutiérrez to the finish, but it allowed Grosjean to leapfrog his teammate, bumping Gutiérrez to 12th.
“I’m very happy to have worked with everyone on this team,” Esteban said. “I really did my best to give them my best performance and the best of myself today. Hopefully, this leaves them all with a great memory. It’s been very nice and I’ve been very grateful to work with Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner. I was proud to be with the team, which started from scratch, and to be a part of the project through the season. Big thank you to my crew, my engineers and mechanics. I wish the whole team all the best for the future.”
Haas F1 Team ends its debut season with a very respectable eighth-place finish in the constructor standings, outpacing the factory Renault team (ninth) and Sauber (10th) and Manor (11th). The 29 points Haas F1 Team earned in 2016 are the most of any new team in this millennium. When Jaguar debuted in 2000 and when Toyota came on the scene in 2002, each entity managed only two point-paying finishes in their entire first seasons for a combined total of six points.
“I think we’re pretty happy with today,” added Guenther Steiner, Team Principal. “We had a competitive car and we finished 11th and 12th, which mirrors the year. We finished the year on a high even if we didn’t get in the points. I felt that today we had one of our best races with both drivers just out of the points. This is a nice way to finish our first season. I’ll take this moment to say thank you to everybody, especially thanks to Gene for giving us this opportunity. Thanks to all the team who work so hard and thanks to both Romain and Esteban for their work all year long. Now we get ready for next year.”