Testing over the past two weeks has shown that the new regulation changes for 2017 have dropped lap times by as much as five seconds compared to when the teams last visited Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix in May 2016.
For Haas, Romain Grosjean’s quickest time on the final day of testing was a 1:21.110, which was also his quickest lap of preseason testing. Grosjean set his fast time on his 61st lap while riding on a new set of Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires, placing him 10th overall among the 13 drivers participating in Friday’s session.
Getting that quick time meant overcoming some adversity. A mid-morning spin at turn five beached the VF-17 in the gravel trap, resulting in a red-flag stoppage. But with no damage to the car, Grosjean was able to continue on, albeit for only 19 laps before a sensor issue stranded him between turns 9-10. The team bounced back from this misfortune as well, with Grosjean totaling 44 laps before the mandatory lunch break.
The afternoon delivered further challenges despite a successful start with another red-flag stoppage halted proceedings. Upon Grosjean bringing the VF-17 back to the garage, a water leak was discovered, jettisoning the remaining 30 minutes of on-track running.
“Well, you never feel totally prepared after testing and before you head to Australia,” the Frenchman said. “We only have eight days, of which you only get four as a driver and one of those was the wet day I had last week.”
“Yes, the big teams are ready, but for us there are still a few unknowns going to Melbourne. That’s the charm of Formula One. That said, I think we have some good ideas where we can improve the car and, hopefully, the updates we’re going to get in Australia will go our way. I think both myself and Kevin (Magnussen) have identified where we can gain some performance.”
HaasF1’s new 2017 contender, the VF-17, features an advanced aerodynamic package designed to create a higher level of downforce. A wider front wing, larger barge boards, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width comprise the changes, along with wider tires from Pirelli, by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear for a 25-percent increase that brings the front tires to 305 millimeters (12 inches) and the rear tires to 405 millimeters (15.9 inches).