The Haas F1 Team has achieved one of its core targets in its debut season by having both Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez qualifying in the top-ten at the Japanese Grand Prix, team boss Guenther Steiner says.
The American outfit has endured a difficult run of races of late, having not finished in the points since the Austrian Grand Prix in July.
Its prospects of turning its form around did not look good in the practice sessions at the Suzuka circuit, where Gutiérrez’s track running was limited by two on-track stoppages and ongoing brake dramas for Grosjean prompted a fiery outburst from the Frenchman.
All that seemed to change in qualifying, with both drives making it into the final phase of qualifying; Grosjean (pictured above) qualified a season’s best eighth-fastest, while Gutiérrez matched his Italian Grand Prix qualifying result with tenth place.
Reflecting on the team’s remarkable turnaround, Steiner praised his drivers and the entire team.
“It was a very good day for us,” he said. “We completed our program in FP3, the guys learned a lot and we were able to set the cars up for qualifying resulting in P8 and P10.
“To get both Romain and Esteban into Q3 was one of the targets for this year and we’ve now achieved it.
“If you’re in your first year and you get two cars in there by merit, it’s fantastic. Hats off to the team and to the drivers.
“Tomorrow we’re going to try to do a good race and, for sure, it’s possible now to get into the points.”
After bearing the brunt of the team’s mechanical dramas this weekend, Gutiérrez – who is yet to finish in the points this season – was equally delighted with the team’s recovery and expressed confidence that the Ferrari-powered cars can make further gains over the remainder of the season.
“It was surprising to arrive into qualifying and put both cars into Q3 as we started the weekend in a very difficult position,” he said.
“We lost a lot of practice time in FP2 and we were not completely happy with the balance of the car, but as a team we managed to recover completely.
“It’s a great skill that we need to keep hold of as this really made the difference today.”
Image via Haas F1 Team