Formula One Team Haas hopes to return to America fourth in constructors’ standings

Getty Images
1 Comment

With one race remaining before Formula One Team Haas returns to home soil, they have a mathematical opportunity to move up to fourth in the constructors’ standings if they can do something they have done only once this season: score 12 or more points in this week’s Japanese Grand Prix at the 3.608-mile Suzuka Circuit.

“Hopefully on the flight back, I can think about a lot of points,” team principal Guenther Steiner said earlier this week in a press release. “That always puts your spirits high – when you fly home and you bring something back. We’ve never had a strong United States Grand Prix. I know everyone wants this to happen – to have the American team having a strong home race. Everybody’s working hard for that. Hopefully, this year we can pull it off.”

The laudable, albeit slightly unrealistic, goal has been made possible by the team scoring more points this year than in their two previous seasons combined. Haas earned 29 points in its inaugural 2016 season. Last year, they stretched that to 47 points. Through 16 of 21 races in 2018, Haas has amassed 80 points, which puts them behind fourth-place Renault by 11.

Haas’ best points performance came in Round 9 in Austria when Romain Grosjean placed fourth and Kevin Magnussen was fifth for a combined 22 points.

So far this season, Haas has placed their two drivers Magnussen and Grosjean in the points in the same race three times. The most recent of these came four weeks ago in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Grosjean finished seventh; Magnussen was eighth for a combined 10 points – narrowly missing the mark they need to achieve at Suzuka.

Last week, Haas F1 announced Magnussen and Grosjean would return to the organization for 2019, giving both drivers the security needed to place in the points.

“It’s always good to know what your future’s like,” Grosjean said. “For us, it’s great that it’s been confirmed. It’s a positive thing. We’re looking forward to the future.”

“It’s just nice to know I have a few more years here with Haas F1 Team,” Magnussen said. “I’m looking forward to that challenge and continuing the relationship that we’ve built over the last two years.”

After last week’s announcement, Haas F1 missed placing both drivers in the points by one position.

Magnussen finished eighth while Grosjean was 11th.

But Grosjean is confident entering the Japanese GP.

“Suzuka is definitely my favorite,” Grosjean said. “I always look forward to going there. We want to do well everywhere. We’re going to fight as hard as we can everywhere to get those points and try to beat Renault.

“It’s always difficult to say exactly why. I think it’s the flow, the corners, the high-speed nature of the track. There’s a risk, as well, with all the gravel and the narrow parts of the circuit. Overall though, it’s not one thing, and sometimes you don’t know why you like something, you just do.”

In their brief two-year history, F1 Team Haas has placed both of their drivers in the points one time in Japan.

This will be Grosjean’s eighth Japanese GP. He has three previous top-10s to his credit with a best of third in 2013 a race in which he led a career-best 26 laps. Last year, he finished ninth.

Magnussen will make his fourth start in Japan. He also placed in the top 10 with an eighth-place finish after starting 12th.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
1 Comment

With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”