Although the majority of Haas F1 Team’s 28 points came in the first four races, when Romain Grosjean scored 22 of them with a sixth, fifth and eighth within the opening four flyaway races, team owner Gene Haas has still called it a “super successful” first season.
Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner spoke to assembled reporters at Haas’ U.S. headquarters outside Charlotte in Kannapolis, N.C. on Tuesday to address how the year has gone.
“It’s been super successful,” Haas told reporters. “We’ve said this a number of times, If we said [at the start] we would have 28 points by midyear, we all would have taken that one. Midyear has been a little tough on us because we haven’t really scored any more points.
“But I think we did better than expected at the beginning, we were less than happy with what happened in the midseason but we have four more races. We have the latest aero package. So we’re optimistic.”
Steiner added that Romain Grosjean’s setup input has been invaluable over the course of the season. The Frenchman has been exactly what they needed even though as a new team, Haas has been without any prior setup input or data to work off.
“I think what he gave us is the confidence of where the car is,” Steiner explained. “As much as he sometimes complains about the car, he knows what the car needs to do. He doesn’t tell you to make you happy. He tells you with his experience, the car is doing this, that or the other. Or it isn’t right or it’s right. So we’re confident. He’s one of the crucial elements of our success here this year.”
This weekend at Circuit of The Americas (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC) marks the first time an American team has raced in a United States F1 race since the Haas Lola team (unrelated Haas, this was the late Carl Haas) in 1986 on the streets of Detroit, in what was called the Detroit Grand Prix and not the United States Grand Prix.
It’s a potential dream weekend for the team, with Grosjean set to make his 100th Grand Prix start and Esteban Gutierrez, the Mexican, getting a sampling of what it’s like to race on his home continent of North America before his home race in Mexico next week.
And they enter on an optimistic high, after both cars made it to Q3 in Suzuka two weeks ago for the first time. Although as Haas related, that made for a learning process even then.
“Keep in mind that we learned the hard way that when you go to Q3, you have to start on your qualifying tires,” Haas explained. “So the people that beat us were people behind us that started on their medium tires and they had a 1-pit strategy where we had to pit twice.
“Obviously, I think some of the guys in front did the two-stop strategy but they had faster cars. But our cars were definitely faster and the cars are faster around the turns now. So I think that will help us quite a bit in the rest of the races.”
Haas embraces the team’s American-ness, but it isn’t a be-all, end-all for their success.
“We get a lot of people that would like to see us to, say, become the American team. We’d like to have people throw money at us, too,” he noted.
And unlike other teams which have either popped up and gone away, or faded after several years, Haas knows the future is bright because there is a wealth of knowledge to grow on for year two.
“The good news is we’re going to have a second season,” Haas said.
Steiner added, “Not everybody had that … We will have a second season.”
Additional reporting from NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan in Charlotte. Look for more from Grosjean, Gutierrez and the Haas F1 Team with Nate later this week on NBCSports.com.