It was a difficult homecoming for Haas F1 Team in the United States Grand Prix Sunday at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The only American outfit competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship left the Lone Star State empty-handed after Kevin Magnussen's ninth-place finish was disqualified while teammate Romain Grosjean suffered a DNF (Did Not Finish) stemming from a collision on the opening lap.
FIA Stewards determined that Magnussen's Haas VF-18 consumed more than the maximum allotment of 105 kilograms of fuel during the 56-lap race around the 5.513-kilometer (3.426-mile), 20-turn track. This resulted in the disqualification.
It was incredibly unfortunate, as Magnussen kept his car clean during a chaotic first lap that saw a handful of incidents where numerous drivers banged wheels and spun off course. Among them was Grosjean, who made contact with the Sauber of Charles Leclerc at the entry to turn 12, damaging his front suspension so much that he was forced to retire from the race after only two laps.
After starting 12th, Magnussen was 11th when the field returned to the mainstraight for the second lap. He picked up 10th on lap nine when the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo came to a stop just past turn 11, its engine silent.
By qualifying outside the top-10, Magnussen had the benefit of choosing his tire compound for the race, whereas those in the top-10 had to start the race on the tire they used in qualifying. Magnussen went with the slightly more durable Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire while most of those ahead of him had the grippier Purple ultrasoft tire. The ultrasofts, however, degraded at a faster rate, and as those ahead of Magnussen began to pit, he stayed out, rising to sixth by lap 26.
Magnussen held that position until he made his scheduled pit stop on lap 30, jettisoning the supersoft tires for a new set of Yellow softs that would carry him to the finish. He emerged from the pits in ninth place.
With 25 laps remaining, Magnussen was sandwiched between the Force Indias of eighth-place Esteban Ocon and 10th-place Sergio Perez. Magnussen's margins between the two drivers stayed healthy, allowing him to handily hold onto ninth place through the checkered flag. While that's what was seen by onlookers, the record books will show otherwise, with the letters DQ listed instead.
Eighteen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains fifth in the constructors' standings with 84 points, but is now 22 points behind fourth-place Renault after the manufacturer placed both its drivers - Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. - in the top-10, with the duo finishing sixth and seventh, respectively. Haas F1 Team did, however, maintain its 26-point margin over sixth-place McLaren.
Magnussen is ninth in the driver's championship with 53 points and Grosjean is 13th with 31 points.
The next event on the Formula One schedule is the Mexican Grand Prix Oct. 28 at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.
Romain Grosjean: "I had a decent start. There was a lot of action going on. I was fighting with Charles (Leclerc) and Esteban (Ocon). I got to turn 12 and I braked early because I was behind them. I didn't want to take much risk, but I ended up in the dirty air and I couldn't stop the car. I tried to avoid the contact as much as I could, but Charles was trying to get a good exit and I hit him. I feel sorry for Charles and I'm frustrated for the team. This being our home race, we wanted to do well. It's not been a great afternoon."
Kevin Magnussen: "I would say it was a steady race. The car was very good. We had good pace and I was able to put pressure on the Force Indias. I passed Perez just after the pit stop and I was faster than Ocon, but I had to save so much fuel that I couldn't afford to attack him. It's a shame that we have fuel saving in Formula One and not being able to attack. At the end of the day, what the fans want to see is great racing. We can't do it because we have to save fuel. It's disappointing."
Guenther Steiner: "It wasn't a good event for us. Grosjean's collision with Leclerc on the opening lap - he ended up getting a penalty for the next race, so we're penalized for that already. We get a three-place grid penalty for him. Kevin finished ninth, but has been disqualified because we used too much fuel. In the end, that's our responsibility to control the fuel amount, but I still disagree with Formula One having to run on these rules. I hope next year, with having 110 kilograms, this will change, but we change another rule and put a big front wing on, so maybe this will be the same. One day we'll get to have a good show, but at the moment it isn't."