BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The U.S. Haas F1 team has been taking a lot of hits.
There is the matter of drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen breaking the number one rule teams have for their drivers: Don’t hit each other.
Then there is the matter of having to go backwards in order to make the car go forwards. In the middle of the season the team put one car back to the specification used at the first race, and it was sometimes faster than the other car with the latest upgrades. Inconsistencies abound that mystify the team.
On the hits front, the drivers collided in Spain, Britain and Germany. The worst one was Britain when both retired early in the race as a result.
Despite their angry remarks over the radios in the heat of the moment, the drivers insist that they get along well.
“When you’re driving at 300 kph (185 mph),” Grosjean said, “obviously you’re not going to say ‘Oh, please, I think I was right and he was in the wrong, and would you mind giving me the position back?’ You’re just going to say: %#&@! Just give me the position!’
“The relationship with Kevin is really good. We phone each other once a week or so. We sat down and said, ‘what can we do better,’ just to make sure that’s not happening again.”
Apart from those incidents on track, Magnussen insisted that he and Grosjean have a pretty good working relationship.
“Actually Romain is a cool guy,” he said, “and we actually have a good time when we go to work. So, it’s being blown out of proportion a little bit. I know you guys (the media) love a bit of a conflict and stuff, but it isn’t as bad as it looks.”
Still, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said that he might have create some rules of engagement for his drivers.
“When they are close to each other, I think we need to take it out of their control who is doing what,” he said.
“At the same time we have another car that, within ten minutes, is a second slower without touching it,” Steiner said, referring to the other car that has had millions of dollars in development upgrades.
Speaking in a TV interview about the new car, Magnussen stated: “One lap it’s perfect, the next I’m driving a hotdog cart.”
That’s a hotdog cart that cost millions of dollars, and one that should not be colliding with the team’s other car.