Safety car destroyed our race - Guenther Steiner
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes the timing of the Safety Car period at the Chinese Grand Prix destroyed any chances of another solid result for the American team.
After debris left on the race track due to the collision between the Toro Rosso drivers at the Turn 14 hairpin brought out the Safety Car, the split strategy Haas had adopted for both cars in the race meant any hope of a solid result was left in tatters.
Steiner was hopeful of a much better performance, but after the safety car period, the team was forced to adopt different tactics for the remainder of the race as both cars were left with less than ideal strategies to fight with their rivals.
"The safety car destroyed our race, obviously, said Steiner.
"I think we were on the way to be seventh with Kevin [Magnussen], and eighth or ninth with Romain [Grosjean]. The Renaults got a free pit stop and, therefore, we ended up where we were. We couldn’t get the tires back up to temperature after the Safety Car.
"Kevin fought hard to finish 10th, and Romain just had to change tires again as we couldn’t get any temperature into them anymore."
Romain Grosjean was left on worn Medium tyres at the Safety Car restart having pitted for Medium tyres on lap 16; this left him exposed to the threats coming from behind and unable to defend his position.
He eventually fell to the back of the pack after making another pit stop with 10 laps to go and clawed his way back to 17th place.
"We made a ballsy strategy going on the ultrasofts to mediums," added the Frenchman. "Unfortunately, the misfortune kept going with me because I knew from the safety car in the middle of the race – when I was on the very long stint on the medium – we were not going to pit. I knew it would be very difficult at the restart, and it was. I tried to hang on to P11 as long as I could but, eventually, the two Force Indias passed me.
"We came in for another set of ultrasofts for the last 10 laps. They were encouraging as there was very low degradation, and the car felt really good. I knew things were going to be very difficult at the safety car, though.”
Magnussen rounded out the top 10, having been in the fight for seventh when the Safety Car was deployed.
"I just got unlucky with the safety car," Magnussen added. "Our strategy was paying off to begin with, but then we got the safety car at a bad time. We didn’t get the advantage out of the strategy that we would’ve had otherwise. I don’t know if we should’ve pitted. It was a tough choice.
"I just think the safety car came at a very unlucky time and it meant we couldn’t score more than the one point. That’s still okay, but we had hoped for a bit more. It’s a long season and, hopefully, we’ll keep scoring points. I’m proud of how we’re performing as a team. We need to keep that up."