gene haas

Getty Images

Formula 1 2017 team preview: Haas

2 Comments

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous Formula 1 operation onto the grid last year amid an air of skepticism in the paddock.

In an era where new teams in F1 just weren’t a thing, to spring up an operation from thin air – and, admittedly, a good slice of investment – was a tough task that most would shy away from.

Yet Haas and his team produced one of the finest debut campaigns in the history of F1. While form was patchy through the year, there were some big, big highlights, and the charge to eighth in the constructors’ championship was beyond the expectation of most.

DRIVERS

8. Romain Grosjean (France)
20. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)

CAR

Haas VF-17

ENGINE

Ferrari 062

TEAM CHIEFS

Gene Haas (team founder/owner)
Guenther Steiner (team principal)

MONTMELO, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 27: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Haas F1 and Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 at the roll out of the Haas-Ferrari VF-17 in the Pitlane during day one of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 27, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

What went right in 2016: A good deal. Few expected Haas to score points on debut, if at all through its first year, but it finished P6 at the first attempt with Romain Grosjean in Australia. Grosjean followed it up with a fifth-place finish in Bahrain, acting as a huge result. To have not only beaten F1’s backmarkers but also a manufacturer of Renault’s magnitude proved that Haas has done things the right way upon entering F1. The myths about new teams have been busted.

What went wrong in 2016: It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Haas. The team still only scored points on five occasions. Esteban Gutierrez didn’t score any. Brake issues blighted the VF-16 car for the entire season. Operational issues still slipped in. The exit of strategist guru Ruth Buscombe – largely responsible for Grosjean’s results in the opening two rounds – was a massive setback for Haas. By the end of the year, Haas didn’t look like a threat to the midfield runners.

What’s changed for 2017: Kevin Magnussen has arrived from Renault to replace Gutierrez, eager for a chance to prove himself after some tough years in F1. Otherwise, things are pretty similar at Haas.

What they’ll look to accomplish in 2017: Building on its 29-point haul from 2016 should be the first target. With the arrival of Magnussen, a driver who has proven himself in junior series, Haas is looking to double its tally. A 60-plus point haul should be enough to give the team at least one more place in the standings. The top five is still a way off for Haas, partiucuarly with its brake problems still a nuisance. But the bottom line is that so long as the team avoids second-season-syndrome and doesn’t drop like a stone, it’ll be proof that Haas is ‘not just another new F1 team’.

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MARCH 02: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-17 Ferrari on track during day four of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 2, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

MST PREDICTIONS

Luke Smith: Haas had a funny debut season in F1. While it was massively impressive in Australia and Bahrain, the remainder of the campaign lacked the same kind of gusto. So for that reason, I’m uneasy about getting too giddy about what the team can do this year. Grosjean and Magnussen offer a mix of great talent and experience, and could be a potent partnership. If Haas can get on top of the brake issues, then it may be in good stead to score regular points this year – but that is a big if…

Tony DiZinno: The tidy looking VF-17 chassis needs more points finishes in a second year and has to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. The blessing and curse for Haas 2017 is that there are high expectations; last year they overachieved out of the gate and set sail for the rest of the year, but inevitably hit the pitfalls that make it hard to sustain success. If the braking issues can be sorted, the reliability should be there for Romain Grosjean and new recruit Kevin Magnussen to score consistent points finishes.

Kyle Lavigne:  The VF17 appears quick enough to score points, but the question of reliability remains, particularly in regards to brake issues that continue to plague the team’s efforts. Grosjean in fact experienced brake problems on the final day of testing that sent him into a gravel trap. If the package proves reliable, the car appears more than quick enough to fight for several finishes inside the points.

Haas reveals VF-17 ahead of sophomore Formula 1 season

© Haas F1 Team
1 Comment

The Haas Formula 1 team has officially revealed its new car, the VF-17, ahead of its sophomore season on the grid.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, enjoying an impressive first campaign during which it exceeded all expectations.

The VF-16 carried Romain Grosjean to 29 points, including a fifth-place finish in Bahrain and an impressive charge to sixth on debut in Australia.

Its successor, the VF-17, hit the track for the first time on Saturday in Barcelona, with images being leaked on Twitter ahead of its official unveil on Sunday.

The new car retains a similar livery to the VF-16, with the Haas Automation company colors of grey, red and black all featuring, but the chassis itself sports an aggressive new look following an overhaul of the technical regulations.

“I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

“You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability.

“Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

Grosjean will be joined at Haas this year by Kevin Magnussen, who has previously raced for McLaren and Renault and has signed a multi-year deal with the American team.

Gene Haas targets moving ‘a position or two’ up F1 field in 2017

© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gene Haas believes that his eponymous Formula 1 operation can build on its successful debut campaign and move “a position or two” up the constructors’ table in 2017.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas entered F1 in 2016 with the first American team in over 30 years, and saw Haas F1 Team finish an impressive eighth in the teams’ standings.

Given the struggles of the most recent batch of new teams in F1, most were skeptical about what Haas could achieve, but the American businessman is pleased to have proved his critics wrong.

“There was a huge amount of skepticism at first. I think a lot of people certainly thought we’d run in the back the entire season,” Haas said.

“We did have a lot of support from NBC Sports and all the guys on the broadcast. I think by the end of the season we silenced the critics and, by now, most people see us as a serious competitor.”

Haas has now set his sights on lifting the team closer to the top five in 2017: “If we can do a little bit better because our business model in Formula 1 allows us to operate more efficiently, we might be able to move up a position or two.”

Haas will field a changed driver line-up for 2017, with the retained Romain Grosjean now being joined by ex-McLaren and Renault racer Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen was targeted by the team for a seat in 2016, only for Haas to sign Ferrari reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez instead.

“Magnussen was actually one of our original candidates. We talked to Magnussen and thoroughly went through his racing resume and we were very impressed,” Haas said.

“Near the end of the [2016] season, we asked Kevin if he might be available and he said he was. On the second to last race weekend of the season, we made our decision and brought him to Haas F1 Team.”

Haas’ new F1 car, set to be called the VF-17, will make its public on-track debut on February 27 during the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

Gene Haas: Avoiding mistakes made in NASCAR helped strong F1 arrival

© Getty Images
7 Comments

Gene Haas says that lessons learned from his NASCAR team’s early struggles helped him enjoy a successful arrival in Formula 1 last year with his eponymous operation.

The Haas team made its F1 debut in 2016 and ended the year eighth in the constructors’ championship, exceeding expectations and claiming a stand-out sixth-place finish at its very first race in Australia.

The immediate success of Haas’ F1 operation was in contrast to his early days in NASCAR, where his team regularly ran as a backmarker for a number of years.

“Our first year in NASCAR was a really arduous task. We always ran at the back and we did it for like six years straight and we never had much luck,” Haas said.

“We started in NASCAR in 2002 and the competition for drivers and crew chiefs was intense and we just struggled.”

Haas said that the lessons learned from his early NASCAR struggles put his F1 team in good stead for its entry last year.

“Everything we learned that we did wrong in NASCAR we avoided in Formula 1, and the most important thing was immediately seeing what works and what doesn’t work,” Haas said.

“We learned that the hard way in NASCAR, so when we went to Formula One our focus was not so much on how we did things, but who we did things with.”

Part of this learning process saw Haas move away from the plan to build everything in-house, instead preferring to strike a technical partnership with Ferrari.

“There’s no doubt about that because when we first started in Formula 1, the whole idea was that we were going to make everything ourselves,” Haas said.

“We were going to be the traditional constructor where we were going to make our own chassis, suspension, components and aero.

“But it was a massive undertaking, so we reversed course a bit and said: ‘OK, who could we partner with?,’ because this is such a monumental task there’s no way that we can accomplish this in the eight or nine months we had to do it.

“So we had a complete change in strategy. That’s when we ended up partnering with Ferrari.”

First test, first points Steiner’s highlights of Haas F1’s debut season

© Getty Images
1 Comment

Guenther Steiner has picked his highlights of Haas Formula 1 Team’s debut season as being its first test in Barcelona and first points on debut in Australia.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016 after many years of planning, becoming the first American outfit on the grid in 30 years.

Haas debuted the VF-16 car at pre-season testing in Barcelona in February before making its race bow at the Australian Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean starred on debut to take sixth for Haas in Melbourne before going one better two weeks later in Bahrain, where he finished fifth.

Ahead of the final race of the 2016 season next Sunday, team principal Steiner picked out his two favorite moments of a memorable debut year for Haas in F1.

“There are two moments that stand out: going out in Barcelona for the first time with a new team during testing and then going to our first race and scoring points,” Steiner said.

“It was like: ‘Wow, did we do this?’ We’ve had our ups and downs, and we will have more of them, but there have been a few moments that all the team members will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Haas’ approach has been different to that of other teams, working closely with technical partner Ferrari in the run-up to its debut season, with Steiner putting its success down to Gene Haas’ vision.

“Thanks to Gene Haas, who had the belief in the idea that we would have to do it differently because more of the same would not work,” Steiner said.

“Gene’s wish was to find a different way. We did and it worked out. I think we surprised a lot of people and I think a lot of people admit it, and I think we are perceived now as one of the 11 F1 teams.

“Few would think that we are only in our first season, which is more than a compliment and that is what we want to be.

“We want to be respectable for our own sake and for the sake of F1. I think people look at us now and say they are part of the show.”