Kannapolis based Haas F1 drivers finish 12, 13 in Malaysia; Vers - | WBTV Charlotte

Kannapolis based Haas F1 drivers finish 12, 13 in Malaysia; Verstappen gets win

Haas driver Romain Grosjean gives an interview prior to the start of the race. (Haas F1 Team) Haas driver Romain Grosjean gives an interview prior to the start of the race. (Haas F1 Team)
KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) -

Haas F1 Team Pit Notes: Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean finished 12th and 13th, respectively, in the Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday at Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur.

Both drivers made significant gains during the 56-lap race around the 5.543-kilometer (3.444-mile), 15-turn track, as Magnussen started 17th and Grosjean began 16th.

Magnussen made his move as soon as the race went green, deftly navigating his way around turns one and two to rise to ninth. Pit stops and the pace of others throughout the race eventually brought Magnussen to 12th, who used a single-stop strategy.

Magnussen shed the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires he started the race with for Yellow softs on lap 10. This dropped him to 17th, but he tenaciously worked to regain positions, which included spirited battles with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso and the Renault of Jolyon Palmer.

“I got a decent start and made some positions on the first lap," said Magnussen. "I just tried to hold on, really. We didn’t have the pace to properly do something today. It was a long race. I chatted to Jolyon (Palmer) after the race when we got out of the cars. It’s always difficult to know what actually happened when you’re out there, but he told me what happened about losing his rear end.”

Grosjean employed a two-stop strategy upon dropping to 19th after the first lap, thanks in part to being forced wide by the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly in turn four. Grosjean pitted on lap 11, switching from supersofts to softs, and returned to the pit lane on lap 33 for a new set of supersofts that would take him to the finish. He used the fresh rubber to attack, rising from 17th after pitting to 13th when the checkered flag dropped.

“I didn’t have a great start. I think I was on a wet patch of the racetrack," Grosjean said. "I got pushed wide at turn four. A car came from the inside and suddenly to the outside, so I had to go wide to avoid him. I was last, and what can you do when you’re last after the first lap? The car felt pretty difficult to drive at the beginning. It came back to life on the last pit stop when we put the aero balance in the car. I think we didn’t choose the right technical setup this weekend, and I include myself in the decision process. We can learn a lot from the weekend. I’m sure in Japan we’re going to get stronger.” 

Winning the Malaysian Grand Prix was recently-turned 20-year-old Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver picked up his second career Formula One victory, his first of the season and first at Sepang. Verstappen’s margin of victory over second-place Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes was a stout 12.770 seconds.

Despite not winning, Hamilton increased his lead in the championship driver standings to 34 over his nearest pursuer, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Fifteen rounds into the 20-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructors standings with 37 points, 14 points ahead of ninth-place McLaren and five points behind seventh-place Renault and 15 points arrears sixth-place Toro Rosso. Grosjean is 13th in the championship driver standings with 26 points and Magnussen is 15th with 11 points.

Only five races remain in the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, with the next event coming Oct. 6-8 with the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit.

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