Haas team principal Guenther Steiner called it a day of “mixed emotions” after P6 for K-Mag, but further woes in the pits.
The American outfit proved their worth as a front runner in the midfield battle, with Kevin Magnussen running a solid race to come home in P6 in Melbourne.
However, just like in last year’s race, Haas would have problems with pit stops – Romain Grosjean’s left front was very slow going on costing him time, before it came loose several laps later and forced him to retire.
Speaking to reporters, Steiner said: “Kevin finishing sixth is a great achievement for the team. We know the car is strong … I think with this car we can be strong in all the remaining 20 races.
“Deja-vu from last year on Romain’s car it looks like – pit stop gone wrong.
“Last year, after Australia we went 20 races – the rest of the season – without another pit stop issue. We’re a little bit unlucky here, we’ll have to investigate what happened. It’s too early to say right now.”
Imagine: you screw up twice with a pitstop in the first race of 2018. The whole world watches it on Netflix so there’s ONE thing you need to avoid the first race of 2019.
Haas mechanic: Hold my Rich Energy Drink. pic.twitter.com/9m9IDqkx3M
— Giedo van der Garde (@GvanderGarde) March 17, 2019
Like his principal, Grosjean was at a loss for words after what transpired.
“I don’t know what happened exactly yet,” Grosjean explained.
“It just felt wrong. It’s not been a good day.
“Before all that I was happy and up behind Kevin,” he continued, explaining that he had been unable to find a way around his team-mate on track before his retirement.
“The new rules are great for following another car, but the tyres are still what they were last year.
“As you push, you slide, then you lose grip. Even though we can follow easier than in the past, overtaking is still complicated.
“Overall today’s a shame, we’ve looked strong all weekend long, we were strong in the race as well.”
Magnussen’s result gives Haas some substance behind their hopes of a strong 2019, and he was understandably delighted with his afternoon.
“I’m very happy about today, it was a good result,” said the Dane.
“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.”