Haas F1 team unveils 2018 Formula One livery, the third-generation VF-18

Photos courtesy Haas F1 Team
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Haas F1 this morning unveiled its new VF-18 ride that will challenge for the FIA Formula One World Championship.

The Kannapolis, North Carolina-based team enters its third full-time season on the F1 circuit in 2018.

The VF-18 evolved from last season’s VF-17 model, which finished eighth in the 2017 constructors standings, scoring 47 points, 18 more points than the 29 points the team earned in its debut season in 2016, becoming the first full-time F1 team from the United States since 1986.

“People see what we can do in Formula One and people believe Haas Automation can build world-class machine tools,” team owner Gene Haas said in a media release. “Being a Formula One participant brings a level of credibility that you just won’t get through traditional advertising.”

Haas said he has used principles and attributes from his Haas Automation firm, the largest machine tool manufacturer in North America, focusing on details and constant refinement to keep the F1 team moving forward and progressing.

“We eliminated a lot of the variables where we knew we were weak,” Haas said. “We’ve focused on what it’s going to take to get our car to be consistent and close that gap to the top teams.”

Keen additions to the VF-18 are the addition of a halo and what is termed as a “drastic reduction” in the sharkfin.

“The biggest part of the car’s evolution was the addition of the halo,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal, Haas F1 Team. “It took quite a bit of study by the aerodynamicists, but the designers had to work hard to modify the chassis so the halo could survive the mandated loads.

“The total minimum weight of the car increased because of the halo, and there’s a higher center of gravity simply because of the halo’s position. But, everyone is in the same boat.

“The regulations stayed pretty stable between 2017 and 2018, so the VF-18 is an evolution of our car from last year. It’s less about reinvention and more about refinement. You see elements we had from last year on the car this year.

“Our 2017 car was actually pretty good, but we didn’t always get the best out of it, and that’s what we aimed to change in 2018. We got the car as light as possible to carry more ballast. We were able to do a better job of putting the weight where we wanted it.”

 

The team will put the VF-18 through its paces at upcoming tests at Circuit de Barcelona in Catalunya, Feb. 26-March 1, and again March 6-9 before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix March 25 in Melbourne.

Several other F1 teams are expected to reveal their 2018 liveries in the next couple of weeks prior to the Barcelona test.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”