Location: Baku City Circuit in AzerbaijanLayout: 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn circuitWeather: Sunny, 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit)Race Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes
Haas F1 Team:Romain Grosjean – Started 11th, Finished 13th (Running, completed 50/51 laps)Romain Grosjean – Started 15th, Finished 16th (Running, completed 50/51 laps)
After a three-year absence, the European Grand Prix returned to the FIA Formula One World Championship via the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn Baku City Circuit in the capital of Azerbaijan. Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished 13th and 16th, respectively, on a hot and humid day.
Grosjean started 11th and Gutiérrez started 15th on the first-time Formula One venue, with an air temperature of 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) augmented by a track temperature that reached 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) – the highest temperatures experienced since practice for the European Grand Prix began on Friday. Both drivers started the 51-lap race on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire, with the plan to make only one pit stop.
This plan quickly changed for Gutiérrez, however, when contact with the Force India of Nico Hülkenberg on the opening lap sent Gutiérrez to the pits on lap eight with a damaged front wing. Along with a new nose, a set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires were bolted onto the VF-16, dropping Gutiérrez to 21st. A second pit stop at the end of lap 29 for a used set of Red supersofts carried Gutiérrez to the end of the race, but he was lapped by eventual race winner Nico Rosberg on lap 32. Gutiérrez finished the European Grand Prix in 16th position.
Grosjean enjoyed a better start, climbing to as high as eighth by lap 10 before pitting for a new set of Yellow softs. As pit stops cycled through, Grosjean rose from 17th to 12th by lap 25. Unfortunately, Grosjean had to make a second pit stop due to a build-up of debris picked up in the car’s radiator intake ducts. With the risk of engine overheating prevalent, Grosjean had no choice but to stop, thwarting any shot at a point-paying finish. Haas F1 Team made the best of the situation, sending Grosjean back onto the track on a used set of Pirelli P Zero White medium tires that would take him to the finish. Lapped by Rosberg on the 43rd circuit, Grosjean never lost his tenacity, battling back to finish 13th.
Eight rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 22 points. There was no change on either side of the American team, as seventh-place McLaren and ninth-place Renault both failed to score points. Haas F1 Team maintained its two-point margin behind McLaren and its 16-point buffer over Renault.
Rosberg dominated the European Grand Prix, leading from the pole to take his 19th career Formula One victory and his series-leading fifth of the season. The Mercedes driver used a one-stop strategy to earn a 16.696 second margin of victory over runner-up Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari. Rosberg is the first winner of the European Grand Prix since Fernando Alonso won the 2012 edition at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain. The win also extended Rosberg’s lead in the championship standings to 24 points over his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
“The car felt very good at the beginning of the race and everything was going well. We then had a bit of rear (tire) graining and we had to pit to go on to the soft tires. The plan was to go to the end. We then had too much rubbish at the front of the radiators and we had to stop again to clean them. That extra stop cost us a lot of performance. We had to fit the medium tires to go to the end, as we didn’t have any more softs. We did our best, but we’re still not where we want to be.”
“It wasn’t a good day for us. I had some damage to the car at the start, and then after that, I was just trying to recover as much as I could. We didn’t have the pace to attack the front. I was struggling to overtake and to regain positions. Overall, it wasn’t a great day. Now we need to keep our focus for the next race and keep optimistic. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll keep pushing and try to optimize everything to get the most from the car for Austria.”
“A challenging race. At the start, Esteban had contact with (Nico) Hülkenberg and lost part of the front wing and a piece of the floor. This resulted in us having to call him in to change the wing and that ruined his race. Romain was going well. We would’ve liked to have him stay out longer on the first set of tires, but once we changed them it was looking good until he had to come in again, this time for the radiators to be cleaned out as we collected some debris. His race pace was good, but we couldn’t risk having the engine overheating. We’re still aiming for points. We had very good pit stops and we’re making progress, so now we look ahead to the next race.”
Round 9 of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. Practice begins July 1, qualifying takes place July 2 and the race runs July 3.