Gene Haas: Reliability key to success in debut F1 season

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BARCELONA – Gene Haas believes that reliability will be key to the success of his new Formula 1 team during its debut season in the series.

Haas F1 Team hit the track for the first time with its 2016 car, the VF-16, on Monday in Barcelona at the start of collective pre-season testing.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas was at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Tuesday to meet the media for the first time since the debut of his operation’s new car.

“We have a great engine, transmission, the chassis is good, the only thing that hasn’t really exercised yet is the crew,” Haas said.

“That’s what we’re doing this week is getting the crew to understand how the car goes together, various parts, they have to change the engine out probably half a dozen times so good learning experience there.

“The car’s characteristics is very neutral, has good aero, balance both end, neutral through turns, doesn’t snap or do anything strange, so far looks good, but we have to go faster and faster to maybe find the limits.”

Haas said that he believes a reliable car will be the key to any success in 2016, and thinks the team can finish well inside the top 10 in the constructors’ championship just by getting this right.

“Our plan is actually to basically capitalize on reliability. If we can just be reliable and stay in the races, we could actually probably finish eighth or ninth just by that,” Haas said.

“A good chassis, a good engine, reliable, solid team – we could finish eight or ninth easily in the points just by being reliable. If we have performance, then we can even move up from there, so that’s probably what our main target is, just to make sure that we can finish the races.

“We know the aero is good, we know the chassis is good from just a few days. We’ve got the best engine and transmission package out there. So now it comes down to the team.

“We now have to put a team together that can go out there and execute when we do have bad days, and you have to change whatever to get back on the track or do what you have to do.

“That’s where the team comes in, the way they work on the cars, they put the pieces together, having the right pieces together, and making sure the car is reliable, that’s going to be their job.

“We’ve got all the right components, now we just need to go out and execute. Like a football team, we need to make the passes and make the touchdowns.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III