Grosjean thrilled as Haas score points on debut

Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:31am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Haas driver Romain Grosjean celebrated wildly as he savored a 'winning' feeling at Sunday's Australian Grand Prix with his sixth-place finish ensuring the U.S.-owned team scored eight points on their Formula One debut.

Pre-race, team principal Guenther Steiner said the stars would have to align perfectly for the series' first American team in 30 years to finish in the top 10 point-scorers.

It seemed fortune was against them when Esteban Gutierrez was taken out early in a high-speed collision with Fernando Alonso that wrecked the Spaniard's McLaren and halted the race.

But the red flag brought a mandatory pit-stop and the team's choice of medium compound tires paid off as Grosjean rode them to the finish while holding off a challenge from Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

"Guys listen to me: this is a win for us, this is a win," an emotional Grosjean said on the team radio after finishing.

"Welcome to Formula One, Gene (Haas, the team owner). This is the day -- this is history guys!

"It feels like standing on the top step of the podium for us," the former Lotus driver, who started 19th on the grid after a disappointing qualifying, later told Sky Sports.

"It's been an amazing race, an amazing weekend. Australia has never been nice to me so finally a change of color and it worked.   Continued...

Formula One - Australia Grand Prix - 20/03/16 - Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean drives during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne.   REUTERS/Jason Reed