Getty Images

Haas F1 prepares for final run of flyaway races with updates

4 Comments

For Haas F1 Team, with low expectations and the challenge of flyaway races at the start of the season, the bar was exceeded with the team’s miraculous start. Romain Grosjean’s sixth place in the team’s debut at Melbourne, followed by fifth in Bahrain and eighth in Russia has netted Haas 22 of its 28 points.

But in the European season, Grosjean has only scored once, and the entire team’s been 11th way too much for their liking. Grosjean was 11th last time out in Monza and teammate Esteban Gutierrez has seemingly been perpetually 11th; the young Mexican has four 11th-place results this season, just shy of a World Championship point.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said the team will miss the convenience of its on-site unit but also is ready to tackle the remainder of the calendar, which is all flyaway races. After Singapore, races in Malaysia, Japan, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi follow to wrap up the team’s inaugural season.

“It’s nice to have your own equipment with you,” Steiner said in the team’s pre-race advance. “You know where you are going and don’t have to change every weekend, but then again, it’s just part of our job to always deal with what we are given. All of the supplies we take to flyaways we ship in sea containers, so it’s all of our stuff. It’s just in a different building and it needs to be set up. Our trucks and hospitality unit will be serviced and repaired and they’ll come back out in the springtime.”

Some updates are coming to the Haas VF-16 chassis for Singapore – the team’s last ones for 2016 – and Steiner is hopeful the tweaks will see the team back in the points, ending its recent run of 11th-place finishes.

“I think we’re at a good point in finding solutions and finding the balance of the car,” Steiner said. “We are bringing updates to the car in Singapore which, hopefully, will help us go faster. The midfield is so close and we are just at the end of it. I think it’s all about execution. Just a little bit more and we will get in the points.

“I would say we are the sixth- or seventh-best team. I think we opened up a gap to the people behind us in the competition speed-wise, but Force India and Williams are still going strong in front of us and we are battling with McLaren, so it’s just a very tight midfield.

“Front wing, modifications to the floor and the brake ducts. We’re aiming to reduce corner sensitivity so the car is more consistent, and enhance aerodynamic performance and overall efficiency.

“We finished developing this year’s car completely more than two months ago. These changes came from wind tunnel data and it took a little bit of time to develop the parts. We took our time so we are better prepared for next year. This is the last update for the 2016 car.”

Steiner said ending the run of 11th place results would be a massive step forward for the team. Haas currently sits eighth in the Constructor’s Championship, 17 points behind Scuderia Toro Rosso and 20 behind McLaren, with those two teams potential targets the rest of the year.

“The frustrating thing is finishing 11th five times. You’re almost there, but you’re not there,” he said.

“Eleventh is the first spot out of the points. Again, frustrating, but you know you are not far off and you are doing well. The 11th position has been earned by merit. We didn’t luck into it five times. We qualified once in the top-10 and made it to Q3 in Italy, so I think we are encouraged, but still disappointed that we don’t have more points.”

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.