The fight for fourth in the constructors’ continues to be a point of interest in F1 given the fractured nature of the two-tiered grid. Renault, Haas and Force India appear to be the main players, and Grosjean’s driving towards the end of the German GP proved vital in keeping the American squad in contention.
Both Haas cars opted for intermediate tyres during the brief rain shower – an error in hindsight, classic midfield opportunism at the time. A delay in double-stacking the Haas cars hampered Kevin Magnussen’s race and saw him finish 11th and outside the points, despite a solid fifth place start. Grosjean’s late switch back onto slicks was smoother, and the Frenchman had to overtake cars ahead in the closing stages.
The Frenchman climbed from 10th to sixth in the last seven laps, his moves missed by the pictures focusing on the tense affair at the front of the grid. Another lap or two and he might even have got Nico Hulkenberg as he was over a second a lap quicker than the Renault driver.
This was Grosjean at his best, overtaking cleanly under severe pressure, to deliver a result that may otherwise have been lost. Team boss Guenther Steiner was pleased with the result for the Frenchman but was ultimately left wanting more given that the gap to fourth in the constructors’ extended to 21-points. He told RACER:
“I think we did some damage limitation overall with Romain finishing sixth, so it’s not too bad. We got away with it not too bad but we need to study if we could have done the two stops on a different lap, not double stop them. If something would have changed… but I am not sure it would so we need to replay everything to see.”
“It happens in such a short time, all these decisions, and I think you have to make sure you cover the Renaults, that they’re not doing anything too risky or silly against them and end up with no points. And you have to think about if you leave them out, can this tire work? And the answer was clearly no.”
Haas might find it difficult in Hungary next time out – the drivers only managed to qualify 15th and 16th in 2017 and the fundamentals of the car don’t seem to suit slower speed circuits. This indicates that the team will need to execute a perfect weekend to maximise the prospect of points and keep the pressure on Renault and Force India.