MELBOURNE: A weekend that began with back-slapping and high-fives for Haas after their best ever Formula One qualifying finished with ‘heartbreak’ and fines after both the team’s cars retired before the halfway mark of the Australian Grand Prix.
Danish driver Kevin Magnussen started Sunday’s race at Albert Park in fifth place with French team mate Romain Grosjean lining up in sixth after Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took a three place drop.
They were running fourth and fifth prior to their first pitstops where it all went wrong.
There was obvious alarm from the mechanics as the cars were released, and they each rolled to a halt before completing another lap.
The team revealed later that it had committed the same mistake twice, failing to properly fasten wheels on each car after changing their tyres.
The stewards imposed fines of €5,000 (US$6000 approx) for each incident, adding another sting to the drivers’ huge disappointment at the season-opening race won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s a very tough one to swallow for the whole team,” said Magnussen.
“To have both cars not finishing – having been in such good positions and with so much anticipation – it’s just heartbreaking to finish like that.”
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said it was “almost unbelievable” for both cars to suffer the same fate in one race.
“It’s very disappointing. The good thing we can take away from this is that the car is competitive,” he said.
“We just need to get our heads up again, to get well prepared for Bahrain.
“We’ll focus on that one and get our pit stops sorted out.”