Haas re­tain Gros­jean, Mag­nussen

Team prin­ci­pal ex­pects even bet­ter per­for­mance next year

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

French­man Ro­main Gros­jean and Dan­ish driver Kevin Mag­nussen will race for Haas again next sea­son, the US-owned For­mula One team said Fri­day.

Gros­jean, 32, joined on the team’s de­but in 2016 with 25-year-old Mag­nussen ar­riv­ing a year later.

“From the very be­gin­ning, we needed ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers to has­ten the de­vel­op­ment of our car and our team, and we have two very good and ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers in Ro­main Gros­jean and Kevin Mag­nussen,” Haas team prin­ci­pal Guen­ther Steiner said in a state­ment.

“We’ve im­proved dras­ti­cally from last year to this year, so re­tain­ing both driv­ers was a pretty easy de­ci­sion.”

The pair have com­bined to score 76 points this sea­son with Gros­jean’s fourth place in Aus­tria the team’s high­est in­di­vid­ual fin­ish.

The French­man’s fu­ture had looked un­cer­tain, how­ever, af­ter he started the year with a run of eight races with­out a point.

Since Aus­tria, which ended that dis­mal run of form, he has fea­tured more strongly with a sixth place in Ger­many and sev­enth in Bel­gium.

Gros­jean has also been in­volved in more than his share of in­ci­dents, most re­cently in Sin­ga­pore, where he was handed two penalty points for ig­nor­ing blue warn­ing flags as Mercedes’ race leader Lewis Hamil­ton tried to lap him.

The holdup threat­ened to cost Hamil­ton the lead, with Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen clos­ing in.

The French­man now has nine points on his li­cence, with 12 trig­ger­ing a manda­tory on­er­ace ban, go­ing into Sun­day’s Rus­sian Grand Prix.

“He should be very care­ful but I think he knows that,” Steiner said Thurs­day. “We are on very thin ice at the mo­ment with that.”

Mag­nussen, a for­mer McLaren re­ject who jumped from Re­nault at the end of 2016, has grown in stature at Haas and feels fully at home there.

“Both driv­ers push each other to be bet­ter, and their collective feed­back al­lows us to be bet­ter,” said Steiner.

“It’s not a co­in­ci­dence that in their sec­ond year as team­mates, Haas F1 Team is hav­ing its best year. By keep­ing Ro­main and Kevin to­gether, we aim to do even bet­ter next year.”

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment leaves po­ten­tial va­can­cies re­main­ing at Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso and Wil­liams, whose Cana­dian Lance Stroll looks set to switch to Force In­dia.

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