This season we will be following the fortunes of the Rich Energy Haas F1 Team in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. And following a strong qualifying performance yesterday by both Romain Grosjean, who qualified in sixth position and teammate Kevin Magnussen, who qualified just behind in seventh, the Haas F1 Team were extremely well positioned for today’s opening round of the Australian Grand Prix at a sunny and clear Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.
Magnussen got a flying start, overtaking his teammate on the straight down into turn one, as Grosjean found himself having to fend off a charge from Nico Hulkenberg in his Renault who managed to get a lightening start off the grid from 11th.
Magnussen pitted on lap 14 for new tyres, having built up a comfortable margin, which then dropped him down to 12th place but fortunately still ahead of Hulkenberg who had pitted a lap earlier.
Grosjean pitted a lap later for a fresh set of tyres but had a slow pit stop due to a left-front tyre issue in getting the new tyre seated, which dropped him down to 14th position and resulted in him retiring on lap 29 with a loose left-front wheel.
The Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi then held Magnussen up on lap 17, who was yet to pit, but by the following lap he managed to get past Giovinazzi getting into ninth place. Fortunately for Magnussen, Hulkenberg also got held up behind a slower Giovinazzi, buying him some welcome breathing space and allowing him to build up a comfortable margin again.
With all the scheduled pit stops out the way by lap 37, Magussen was back into sixth position and carried on to the end of the race unchallenged, crossing the finish line nearly four seconds ahead of Hulkenberg, who finished in seventh.
The valuable eight points Kevin Magnussen scored puts the Rich Energy Haas F1 Team fourth in the constructors’ championship, seven points behind Red Bull in third place. So, all in all, despite Grosjean’s unfortunate retirement, it’s a strong start to the 2019 championship for the Haas Team.
Kevin Magnussen says of his strong sixth place finish and eight points that “I’m very happy about today, it was a good result. I’m obviously sad for team not to have both cars get to the finish. Surely Romain (Grosjean) would have been in a good position as well, especially after we both had such good qualifying yesterday, so I’m gutted for his side that they didn’t get anything out of today. P6 for me is very good, I’m happy with the day. I made a good start and had a really good car from there. I was able to push the whole race and look after my tyres. I’m really happy to start the year like this.”
The race was won by Valtteri Bottas in his Mercedes, who overtook teammate and polesitter Lewis Hamilton on the opening straight, Hamilton seeming to bog down a little at the start. Bottas drove a faultless race, opening up a large gap of 20.886 seconds between himself and Hamilton as he took the chequered flag, scoring the maximum 26 points by also securing the fastest lap in the closing stages of the Grand Prix. For the first time this year, the driver who achieves the fastest lap in any given race is rewarded with an extra point, which could prove to be invaluable towards the end of the season as the top drivers battle it out for the championship title.
Max Verstappen took the last podium position at the Australian Grand Prix, 22.52 seconds behind in his Red Bull, whilst Sebastian Vettel came fourth, a distant 57.109 seconds behind Bottas. Charles Leclerc put in a strong performance in his race debut for Ferrari, coming fifth, just over a second behind his teammate Vettel.
The teams head to Bahrain for the next round of the championship for the Bahrain Grand Prix on 31st March.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man Behind The Wheel and Our Man On The Ground Travel and Lifestyle Magazine.
Photographs courtesy of Haas F1 Team