It was a tale of two races for Haas F1 Team in the Russian Grand Prix Sunday at Sochi Autodrom. The fourth round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship saw Kevin Magnussen finish 13th while Romain Grosjean crashed out on the opening lap.
Magnussen qualified 14th but started 13th due to a five-place grid penalty being served by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who qualified 11th. Grosjean qualified 20th but started 19th as 17th-place qualifier Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren also served a grid penalty.
Grosjean’s race ended quickly. A collision with the Renault of Jolyon Palmer in turn two of the opening lap around the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit bounced Grosjean’s Haas VF-17 into the wall and out of the race. He was classified 19th.
Magnussen, meanwhile, had an excellent start to the 52-lap race, picking up three positions to rise to 11th behind the 10th-place Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and 12th-place Sainz.
When Daniel Ricciardo began experiencing brake problems on his Red Bull after five laps, his trip to the garage allowed Magnussen to pick up another spot and crack the top-10.
Magnussen pitted at the end of lap 21, swapping the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires he started the race with for a set of Red supersofts that would carry him to the finish. The scheduled stop dropped Magnussen to 14th, as an FIA-mandated five-second penalty was served for exceeding track limits in turn two of the opening lap.
Magnussen displaced Vandoorne for 13th on lap 26 and then set his sights on the Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat in 12th and Sainz in 11th.
The distance to Kvyat was great, however, and even with another 26 laps remaining, the gap was too much to overcome. Magnussen’s 14th-place finish was his first outside of the top-10 in three career Formula One starts at Sochi Autodrom.
Valtteri Bottas won the Russian Grand Prix to score his maiden Formula One victory by .617 of a second over Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The fifth-year driver earned the win in his 81st career Formula One start but only his fourth with Mercedes. Bottas took over for reigning series champion Nico Rosberg after Rosberg retired at the conclusion of the 2016 season. The triumph also kept Mercedes’ record at Sochi Autodrom perfect, as the manufacturer won the Russian Grand Prix in 2014 and 2015 with Lewis Hamilton and the 2016 race with Rosberg.
Four rounds into the 20-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains seventh in the constructor standings with eight points, five behind sixth-place Toro Rosso and two ahead of eighth-place Renault. Grosjean and Magnussen are tied for 11th in the driver standings with four points apiece.
Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action May 12-14 for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
“We had a great start and I was on the inside of Palmer under braking. I don’t know why he turned in. I was there and then he turned in. I tried to get as much as I could on the apex, but he just hit me, spun and came back and hit me again. The car was badly damaged and our race was over. I was full of hope that we could understand what was going on over the weekend, get some more mileage and understand things so we can perform at the next race. Though we were maybe not going to score points today, it’s always good to be able to see what we could do.”
“It’s been a bit of an off weekend for us, but we’ve learned from it. We’ve had some strong weekends in the first three races, then not so strong this weekend for some reason. I guess you always learn and I don’t think this is representative for the rest of the season. It’s difficult when you have a midfield that’s so tight. It doesn’t take a big mistake before you fall back. It’s not ideal, but I’m looking forward to the next race and the rest of the season.”