The pre-season promise of Haas was realised in qualifying in Melbourne. Magnussen and Romain Grosjean fairly comfortably established themselves as the fourth fastest team – at this circuit, at least – and will start fifth and sixth, the team’s best-ever grid positions.
Alonso has previously mentioned that the team’s pace isn’t surprising given that the car is “obviously a Ferrari replica”, referring to Haas’s technical partnership with the Scuderia and the visual similarities to last year’s Ferrari.
Magnussen isn’t one to keep his thoughts to himself and has completely dismissed Alonso’s comments, saying he’s just upset that such a small team is beating him.
“He’s annoyed that we’re in front. I wonder why? I’ve been to McLaren. I’ve raced for that team and seen the infrastructure. Compared to this, it must be annoying. I’m really proud of the team, and impressed. We’ve got a car that’s competitive here, it’s the fourth best car on the grid this weekend.
“This team is the smallest on the grid, and if not the lowest then one of the lowest budgets and the least amount of people and resources. And yet we’ve got the fourth best car on this track in qualifying. That’s impressive, I’m impressed by that.”
Grosjean is getting fed up of the suggestions too, saying:
“It was the same thing last year, we were a ‘Ferrari B’ We’re using the same suspension, the same gearbox, the same engine. Everyone knows that the suspension are defining a lot of the flow so of course there’s going to be similarities.
“But again we’re doing our own car and if we were a Ferrari B we’d be up there with them. It’s not true and it’s not nice for the people that work at Haas and produce a Haas VF-18.”
Haas has its work cut out if it wants to stay as the fourth fastest team, though, as with fewer staff and a smaller budget than rivals, the team’s development throughout the season is likely to be slower.
As for the upcoming race? You’d have to think a seriously big haul of points is on the table – as long as the drivers don’t have any issues, like, say, crashing into each other. Grosjean says that shouldn’t be a problem, though:
“I’m not worried, I think we’ve got a good relationship. Everything can happen, obviously, it’s racing, an incident can happen but I’m sure we’ll do our best effort to not do a Force India-type scenario.”
Well, it’s official, there’s no such thing as hitting your teammate anymore – it’s now called ‘doing a Force India’.