Despite seeing both drivers fail to finish, Haas F1 Team boss Guenther Steiner saw the new car show its capabilities.
The Banbury team left Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit having suffered a double DNF with drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in ChinaHaas F1 Team boss Guenther Steiner
Steiner’s optimism came in the form of Grosjean’s sixth-place qualifying effort the day before.
It was the best qualifying performance by a Haas 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 16-turn circuit showcased the speed available from the Haas VF-17.
Magnussen qualified 17th, due to running wide at turn 12 on his qualifying lap, but he too felt the potential of the team’s second-generation car.
Grosjean used that potential to his advantage at the start, deftly holding off and then pulling away from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. A water leak later derailed Grosjean’s run, sending him to the garage after 13 laps.
Magnussen’s contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson sent him into the gravel trap on the opening lap. Magnussen re-emerged on to the track, albeit with a damaged front wing that necessitated a trip to pit lane.
With a new wing and fresh tyres, Magnussen returned but well down the running order. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a suspension issue forced Magnussen to retire.
The end result left Magnussen 15th and Grosjean 20th in a race of attrition that saw five other drivers fail to finish.
Steiner said: “It was not the race we wished for, or we expected.
“The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China.”
Grosjean said: “It’s a pretty disappointing result but the car was there in qualifying.
“I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn’t have last year. I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results.
“If we do that, then I’m sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points. We’ve got a great car, so no matter what, we’re going to be there this year.”
Magnussen added: “It feels good and the car is fast, that’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there, we just have to make it finish and score points.”