Haas F1 Pit Crew in Winter Testing - Getty Images

The 2018 F1 season started out on the right track for Haas F1. All eyes were on the Haas team at Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix after an impressive winter testing. Kevin Magnussen qualified sixth, equaling the team’s best qualifying effort to date. Romain Grosjean qualified just behind Magnussen in seventh to end a great qualifying session for Haas. Thanks to a Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo penalty, both drivers were moved up a position. They locked out the third row, fifth and sixth, for the start of the Australian Grand Prix. It all started out so well for Haas, but it came to an unfortunate end. It all came down to a pit stop blunders for both Haas cars.

Cross-Threaded Pit Stop Blunders

Started Out Strong

At lights out, Magnussen was on the attack. The Dane took fourth position from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on the outside at turn one. He held onto the position as they moved on through turn two. Verstappen made many attempts to get close enough to Magnussen to try to regain the position. On lap 10 however, Verstappen spun off the circuit at turn one, Dropping him down the order. Magnussen drove away and Grosjean picked up the position, putting the Haas duo in fourth and fifth with 48 laps to go. The pressure was still on of course, with Daniel Ricciardo in sixth behind Grosjean.

Pit Stop Blunders

Magnussen pitted to change from ultrasoft tyres for a set of supersoft tyres. All seemed normal until a radio call was made when Magnussen was exiting the pitlane. “Stop the car! Stop the car immediately!” It was a loose wheel nut on the left rear tyre and Magnussen’s hopeful top five finish was lost.

Two laps later, Grosjean pitted for supersoft tyres. This time a loose wheelnut forced him to stop on track. The Frenchman’s race was brought to an abrupt end. Just like that, the Australian Grand Prix came to an end for Haas F1.

Team Error

The determination of the problem for both cars were team errors. Not checking to see if the wheel-nuts were cross-threaded or not. Guenther Steiner, Haas Team Principal said “It was just a bad pit stop. The wheel-nut was on but it was cross-threaded. That doesn’t tighten the wheel up but for the mechanic, it feels like it is tightened and it wasn’t.

“Sometimes, these pit stops, they are so quick you have no time to check it and they didn’t check. It wasn’t correctly on. These things happen. What can you do?

“It’s unbelievable to have the same problem in two stops, one on the front wheel, one on the rear wheel. Even if it’s not believable, it’s real. It happened.

“It’s very disappointing end to the day for us. But the pace was good, the car was running. It is still a feel- good story as we’re up with the big boys.”

Great Teammates

Of course, some of the mechanics responsible for the tyre change were inconsolable. Grosjean showed great maturity and camaraderie in his attempt to console the mechanic responsible for the pit stop mishaps.

All eyes will be on Haas for the Bahrain Grand Prix. If it wasn’t for a pit stop problem, Haas had the opportunity to finish fourth and fifth in Australia. They showed great pace in both qualifying and the race, so anything can happen in Bahrain. Let’s hope that Haas can get their pit stops in order and make another great showing next time around.

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