Things were looking pretty great for the Haas F1 team during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. With both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualifying in the top 10 and moving up to run 4th and 5th at the race start, it was hard not to be somewhat optimistic. If the drivers held those positions, the American team would score its best finish ever, not to mention a whole heap of points, too.
But after the first pit stop, everything went totally wrong.
Magnussen pitted first, but as he got out on track, it was clear that something definitely wasn’t right. Citing what he felt was suspension failure, Magnussen pulled off on Turn 4. A quick look into the Haas garage showed a mechanic walking off out of view.
There was barely time to speculate on what was going wrong before Romain Grosjean took off from his own pit stop—with his crew throwing up their hands in exasperation. By Turn 2, he was out of the race.
According to team principal Guenther Steiner, “The wheelnut was on but it was cross-threaded. That doesn’t tighten the wheel up but for the mechanic, it feels like it is tightened and it wasn’t.”
Adding insult to injury, the team’s been fined €10,000 for unsafe pit practices. Ouch.
It’s rare for an F1 team to drop the ball on a pit stop, but it does happen every so often. But it’s pretty much unheard of for a team to do it twice within the span of a single pit stop sequence. Haas proved that there can be a first time for everything, though—if not for their best finish to date, then for their most impressive error.