SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The Haas Formula One team came back down to earth with a bump in China two weeks ago but Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix put the U.S.-owned newcomers back into orbit.
Romain Grosjean delivered their third scoring finish in four races and again it came after the Frenchman started way down the grid.
“I think we are kind of between Earth and the Moon right now,” team owner Gene Haas told Reuters as he considered another job well done.
”Any day that you get points, that’s a great day. We’re very happy with what we did. I think Romain did a great job of maintaining his position in the last 20 or so laps.
“He’s scored points three-quarters of the time.”
Grosjean, who joined from the financially-stricken former Lotus team that is now Renault, was eighth in Sochi after starting 15th on a one-stop strategy.
He was sixth in Australia, where he qualified 19th on the team’s debut, and then took fifth in Bahrain from ninth on the grid.
In China, the race before Sochi, the Frenchman had struggled home in 19th place with Mexican team mate Esteban Gutierrez 14th and there was talk of a reality check for the Ferrari-powered newcomers.
Haas said the team, riding high in fifth position overall, had no illusions about the task ahead but there was also plenty to be optimistic about over the next 17 races.
“We have a lot left in the car to develop so there’s a lot of positives, that’s for sure,” he explained.
”I think it’s going to get harder. I think the other teams look more competitive. The time gaps between all the competitors has shrunk so it’s going to be more and more difficult going forward to score points.
“I‘m very excited but also I realize that, boy, this is a tough sport.”
Haas, the first U.S.-owned team in 30 years, have now scored in more races already than the last all-new outfit, now-departed Toyota, did in their entire debut season in 2002.
Editing by Tony Jimenez