Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez qualified eighth and 10th, respectively, for the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka Circuit. It marked Haas F1 Team’s first appearance in Q3 and the 12th straight time both pilots advanced to Q2.
The two drivers utilized the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire throughout qualifying on Saturday. Grosjean set the seventh-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:32.458 and Gutiérrez was 11th quickest with a lap of 1:32.620. Solidly among the top-16, both drivers moved on to Q2. There, Gutiérrez was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:32.155 and Grosjean followed in eighth with a lap of 1:32.176. In the top-10 in qualifying for the first time, Grosjean led the way with a 1:31.961 that slotted him eighth and Gutiérrez stopped the clock with a 1:32.547 to earn 10th.
Taking pole for the Japanese Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. His fast lap of 1:30.647 was .013 of a second better than that of his teammate and nearest championship pursuer, Lewis Hamilton. It was Rosberg’s 30th career Formula One pole, his eighth of the season and his third at Suzuka. Rosberg holds a 23-point advantage over Hamilton in the championship standings heading into the Japanese Grand Prix.
Before Grosjean, Gutiérrez and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track.
Overnight rain made for damp conditions prior to the 60-minute session, with drivers beginning their installation laps on the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tire. The asphalt quickly began to dry, making the wet-weather tires obsolete. For their first timed laps, Grosjean and Gutiérrez had Pirelli P Zero White medium tires bolted onto their respective Haas VF-16s.
Gutiérrez had a brief scare on his sixth lap with a spin in turn five. He ended up back on track, but facing the wrong direction. Gutiérrez quickly righted his machine and made two more laps before returning to the garage.
In FP3’s final minutes on an almost dry track, Gutiérrez and Grosjean secured their fastest laps riding on Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires. Gutiérrez wound up 12th fastest with a quick time of 1:33.787 set on his 12th lap. Grosjean ended up 16th fastest with a best time of 1:34.272 earned on his 11th lap. In the end, the two Haas F1 Team drivers recorded a total of 29 laps – 16 by Gutiérrez and 13 by Grosjean.
Quickest in FP3 was Rosberg, giving him a sweep of the weekend’s practice sessions as Rosberg also topped FP1 and FP2 on Friday. Rosberg’s fast lap of 1:32.092 was .302 of a second better than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, winner of last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Gunther Steiner, Team Principle:
“A very good day for us. 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.”