The Haas F1 team was the first to release images of its 2018 car yesterday, which shows a strong connection with last year’s successful Ferrari SF70-H, as one would expect.
Team principal Gunter Steiner has said that “90% of the components of our car are made in Italy” and the team has a unit near Dallara where it is being assembled, with staff shipped over from the base in Banbury, UK to complete the car build. The car will transfer to the Barcelona test from Italy on February 21.
Last year was excellent for Ferrari, even if they didn’t manage to hold onto the championship lead when it really mattered in the closing stages.
The car was fast and innovative and some of those cues appear on the new Haas, particularly around the front of the floor and sidepod area.
“We’ve concentrated on refining some areas and cancelling out some of our weaknesses,” Steiner told Gazette dello Sport. We’ve tried to make the car as light as possible so we can play with ballast and in that respect we’ve made great progress.
“The Halo has given the engineers a real challenge to deal with the weight. The centre of gravity is higher but all teams are in the same boat there.”
Ferrari’s prodigal son
Haas has a technical collaboration with Ferrari, even if its status as favoured son has been challenged somewhat by the decision by Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne to collaborate closely with Sauber; with Alfa Romeo branding, Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc at the wheel and a technical partnership that includes the latest engine.
So Haas is up against it in 2018. Although they scored 19 points more in 2017 than in 2016 (47 in total in a very tight midfield scrap), they managed to finish eighth; ahead of only McLaren and Sauber. Just ten points separated Renault in 6th and Haas in 8th.
McLaren will surely move ahead this year with the Renault engine, while Toro Rosso may slip back with the Honda.
So Haas needs to pick up every scrappy point it can to keep momentum going this year, with drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
One senses that this could be a defining year for the careers of both as Grosjean needs to stand out in order to extend his contract beyond its initial three year term and Magnussen needs to become known for more than hard-man tactics and strong words with other drivers.
What do you think of the new Haas F1 design? Where do you think they will finish this year’s championship? Leave your comments below