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Haas F1 Team: Japanese Grand Prix

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Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished 11th and 20th, respectively, in the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka Circuit. 

The duo used a two-stop strategy in the 53-lap race around the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track. Since both drivers advanced to the third and final qualifying round on Saturday, they had to start the race on the same set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires they used in Q3. 

Grosjean began the race from seventh and Gutiérrez rolled off in 10th – the best collective starting position for Haas F1 Team this season. They both moved quickly when the race went green, but Grosjean was pushed wide at the start by the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, which dropped him to ninth. Gutiérrez held his position and slotted in behind his teammate. 

Grosjean pitted at the end of lap 10 for a new set of Pirelli P Zero Orange hard tires and Gutiérrez followed a lap later with the same strategy. 

As other teams’ strategies played out, Grosjean was 14th and Gutiérrez was mired in 20th after 15 laps. Gutiérrez’s race was made even more difficult when he spun on lap 20 at the entrance to the Casio Triangle when Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. attempted a block.

Gutiérrez promptly recovered, and along with Grosjean, they set their sights on making strong, consistent laps.

When Williams teammates Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas pitted on laps 24 and 28, respectively, it allowed Grosjean to rise to ninth and Gutiérrez to climb to 14th. 

Shortly after Bottas pitted, it was time for Gutiérrez to make his second and final stop. At the end of lap 28, Gutiérrez brought his Haas VF-16 to the attention of his crew for a new set of Orange hards. Two laps later, Grosjean did the same. 

By lap 33 after pit stops had cycled through, Grosjean was 11th and Gutiérrez was 20th. It’s where the two drivers would finish, despite Grosjean pressuring Bottas in the final laps for 10th. 

Winning the Japanese Grand Prix was Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver made a clean sweep of the race weekend, ending up first in each practice session and winning the pole before securing his 23rd career Formula One victory, his ninth of the season and his first at Suzuka. Rosberg beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 4.978 seconds while his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton finished third. The victory allowed Rosberg to add 10 more points to his lead in the championship standings, as 33 points now separate him from Hamilton, his nearest championship pursuer. 

Seventeen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. The American squad maintained its 19-point gap to seventh-place Toro Rosso and the 20-point advantage it holds over ninth-place Renault. Mercedes clinched the constructor championship via Rosberg’s victory and Hamilton’s podium. 

Four races remain on the 2016 Formula One schedule, with the series heading to Haas F1 Team’s home race in two weeks. The United States Grand Prix takes place Oct. 23 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

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