There was a sense of deja vu at Australian GP 2019 when Romain Grosjean’s Haas trundled to a stop after a pitstop. As it turned out, a wheel was loose on the car and the Frenchman was helpless in the situation.
It later transpired that a broken wheel nut suffered damage after being forced too hard onto the car. That alone was the culprit behind the 32-year old’s retirement from the Australian Grand Prix. Team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed the news after a thorough investigation.
He mused that the American team must be “jinxed” as the situation seemingly mirrored a similar problem encountered last year. The only difference was that teammate Kevin Magnussen lived to fight another day and completed the race in a point-scoring position.
When the pitstop phase arrived, Grosjean’s left front tyre refused to cooperate and slot in properly. As a result, a mechanic was forced to use extra force to get the tyre to fit in.
“In the pit stop there was an issue as we lost seven seconds and the race was lost there even if he could get to the end,” Steiner said, talking to GP Today. “He wouldn’t have got in the points, that was the issue, then they got the wheel back on.”
“We didn’t lose the wheel like last year, but after 15 laps it mechanically broke as we forced it on. The wheel nut broke.”
“It just seems to be jinxed. It is very strange like last year. After Melbourne we had 20 races without a problem then we come back here and we have a problem.”
It was especially gutting as Magnussen even claimed that Haas was winning the best of the rest battle. The Dane’s sixth place during the race, was an encouraging sign for Steiner that Haas could be in for a positive season ahead.
“It is disappointing but the good thing is the potential in the car is good,” he said. “It is a mixed feeling.”
“Starting with the good things: we are competitive, Kevin did a fantastic race and the car is good qualifying sixth and seventh here, we finished sixth and have eight points which compared to last year is eight points more, we are in fourth position here and last year we were last.”
“The negative is it could be a lot more if we wouldn’t have had the déjà vu from last year with Romain’s pit stop.”
“There are more positives than negatives therefore you don’t see me in tears or down. Now we know the potential of the car we just have to get it out of it and do a good job.”