Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen earned strong starting positions for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix by advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying Saturday at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The duo qualified sixth and eighth, respectively, as the American squad placed both its drivers into Q3 for the second straight race, as well as the fourth time this season and the fifth time in team history.
Grosjean's performance equaled Haas F1 Team's best qualifying effort to date - sixth earned by Grosjean and Magnussen in the 2017 and 2018 Australian Grands Prix, respectively. The Austrian Grand Prix is the ninth race of 2018 and the milestone 50th race for Haas F1 Team since its debut in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix.
Grosjean set the fourth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:04.242 around the 4.318-kilometer (2.683-mile), 10-turn circuit. It marked Haas F1 Team's best Q1 result in its three-year history. Magnussen was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:04.460. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.
In Q2, Grosjean earned the sixth-fastest time with a lap of 1:04.059 and Magnussen tucked in right behind in seventh with a lap of 1:04.291, allowing each driver to handily make the top-10 cutoff and advance to Q3.
Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with four-time and reigning champion Mercedes, 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari and four-time champion Red Bull all represented. Haas F1 Team held its own among these giants, with Grosjean qualifying a best-of-the-rest sixth with a lap of 1:03.892 and Magnussen taking eighth with a lap of 1:04.051.
Both Grosjean and Magnussen ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Both Grosjean and Magnussen began the session on the Red supersoft tire before switching to the Purple ultrasoft tire.
Grosjean ran 17 laps and set the seventh-fastest time with a 1:04.916 on his 13th tour. Magnussen tallied 16 laps and earned his best time on his 11th lap - a 1:05.013 that put him right behind his teammate in eighth. Each driver secured their quick lap riding on ultraosfts.
Romain Grosjean: "It was a really good qualifying. We produced some good setup work on the car and we've built our pace through the weekend. I'm very happy we could get into Q3 using only one set (of tires) in Q2. It meant we could have more fun and play around in Q3. I was happy with the car. It all went very well, and the balance was great. I was hoping we'd stay in P4. I was thinking, ‘Come on, that can stay there.' The truth is that other teams are faster, but I'm very proud to be in between the two Red Bulls, and I'm happy that Kevin is P8. We've got both cars in the top-10 for the race tomorrow and, hopefully, we get some points."
Kevin Magnussen: "I think the team did a really good job today with the car being so good. Romain did a really good lap, and we've been quick all day. I think P6 and P8 are pretty good starting positions for tomorrow. We'll see how Sunday goes. Our pace yesterday in FP2 on the long runs was pretty good. We'll take what we can get, but we need to get those points. We're going to keep our feet on the ground and see what we can get tomorrow."
Guenther Steiner: "Obviously, it was a very good result for us. Thanks to the drivers, and to the whole team, for a fantastic job. They can be proud of what they've achieved today. We're now looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.