Gene Haas says it took five years in NASCAR to achieve a result comparable to his F1 team's sixth-place finish on its debut at the Australian Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean exceeded expectations in Melbourne by making use of a single tyre change under a red flag on lap 18 to finish sixth ahead of much more experienced teams. Haas has raced in NASCAR since 2003, winning two drivers' titles and 33 races in that time, but team owner Gene Haas said it took five years in stock cars to achieve a result comparable to Grosjean's sixth place.
"We spent a lot of years racing in NASCAR and never accomplished anything, we'd lead a few laps but that was about the best," he said. "What we did today took five years in NASCAR, but learning what I did in NASCAR is there's just certain things you put together. You've got to get the right people, the best equipment you can get and that's how you win. It's a formula that we learned the hard way and now we're trying to repeat it."
Haas said Sunday's result would be good for the team as it embarks on the rest of the season, but is keeping his expectations in check.
"I don't think we had a lot of expectations for the season and it could still be a long hard season -- quite frankly, one race doesn't define a season. The team is good and the guys worked well together. There was a lot of learning about how to communicate, but we had a lot of adversity and they pulled together and worked. They had great results and they will feel confident when they come to the next race and that will have great benefits.
"Ultimately I think it's the team -- and that goes from the owner, to the driver, to the mechanics and the people that put the pieces together -- they are all important and it's about making them feel that they are all wanted. I think that Grosjean did that today, he made them feel like a team."