The impressive performance by Haas driver Romain Grosjean during both free practice sessions on the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix weekend surprised most in the paddock, but not Fernando Alonso.
Grosjean ended FP2 in Melbourne sixth fastest, but notably half a second up on Alonso whose McLaren team is targeting fourth place this season.
The Spaniard, who ended the McLaren’s first free practice day with Renault power in eighth, was asked if he was surprised by Haas being half a second ahead in sixth place – he replied, “No, not really. They have obviously a Ferrari replica of last year and Ferrari were winning here [in 2017].”
“Haas appears to be very fast and maybe is right behind the top three teams and it will be hard to beat, especially in the first race and the first part of the season. But we’ll try to be close and to take advantage of every chance we get.”
Grosjean afternoon lap time of 1:24.648 put him among the big three teams, including outpacing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and well within the half-second target to Ferrari that the team were targeting for this season.
Since their inception, Haas has enjoyed a strong technical alliance with Ferrari and team chief Gunther Steiner admitted in the past that “we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline.”