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F1 2016 Midseason Review: Impressive first half for rookie team Haas

RealSport look at how Haas have done so far in their rookie season, and what the future may hold.


As we hit the summer break it’s time to take a breath from what has been a relentless season and look at how the teams have done so far in 2016. Today we look at Haas.

Originally due to take their place on the grid in 2015, newcomers Haas decided to take an extra year to prepare before making their F1 bow on the streets of Melbourne in March. This extra preparation time (and a technical partnership with Ferrari) clearly paid off as the new boys started life in F1 with an excellent 6th place for Romain Grosjean, followed by an even better 5th place for the Frenchman in the second race of the season in Bahrain.

This excellent start to life in F1, in which Haas have scored more points in 2 races than F1’s previous three new teams combined, unfortunately couldn’t be sustained, and the team have found themselves slipping towards the back of the midfield as the season has progressed, although this trend has been bucked by the occasional points score from Grosjean. Overall, Gene Haas will be very satisfied with the performance of his F1 team so far.

Driver Battle

 

 Romain GrosjeanEsteban Gutierrez
Austria

Q: 19

R: 6

Q: 20

R: DNF

Bahrain

Q: 9

R: 5

Q: 13

R: DNF

China

Q: 14

R: 19

Q: 18

R: 14

Russia

Q: 15

R: 8

Q: 16

R: 17

Spain

Q: 14

R: DNF

Q: 16

R: 11

Monaco

Q: 15

R: 13

Q: 12

R: 11

Canada

Q: 15

R: 14

Q: 14

R: 13

Europe

Q: 11

R: 13

Q: 15

R: 16

Austria

Q: 13

R: 7

Q: 11

R: 11

British

Q: 13

R: DNF

Q: 14

R: 16

Hungary

Q: 11

R: 14

Q: 15

R: 13

Germany

Q: 15

R: 13

Q: 11

R: 11

At first glance, especially at points tally so far this season, it’s easy to conclude that Romain Grosjean is the runaway leader of the 2 Haas drivers, scoring 100% of the team’s points so far, and out qualifying Gutierrez by 8-4 so far this year. However, in the first 2 races of the year, where the VF-16 was arguably at its strongest, Gutierrez was very unlucky to be taken out by Fernando Alonso’s McLaren in Australia, and retired from a promising position in Bahrain with brake issues. Since then, and in races in which both Haas drivers have finished, Gutierrez actually holds the upper hand, but sadly has no points to show for it, finishing an agonising 11th and just outside the points on 4 separate occasions as the team slipped down the order.

Gutierrez has certainly looked more comfortable in the car as the season has gone on, but now it is time for him to really show what he can do and take the fight to his more experienced team mate. While his status as Ferrari reserve drivers may give him a certain amount of leeway, the bottom line in F1 is points scored, and he is going to have to start showing he is capable of that and of beating his well respected team mate to these points finishes if he is going to fulfil the expectations placed on him by Ferrari and the rest of the F1 paddock.

Team Performance

Considering their status as rookies in F1, the Haas team has performed remarkably so far this season. They have had 3 mechanical retirements, mainly centred around brake issues, which for a new team with a new car is nothing short of exceptional. They have undoubtedly benefitted from their unprecedented technical partnership with Ferrari, by which they haven’t had to build a lot of their components themselves, but this feat is still worthy of the highest praise.

In terms of development, Haas have also performed admirably. They started with a car that quick (at least in terms of race pace) out of the box, and while the fall into the midfield would have been predictable, the fact that they have managed to arrest this slide, and still managed to score some points as recently as Austria is an impressive achievement.


Looking Forward

Haas have had a great start to their F1 career, and I see no reason why this cannot continue in the future. They have a well experienced team principal in Gunther Steiner, as evidenced by their shrewd hiring of technical staff throughout 2015 to give them adequate preparation for their 2016 debut. Gene Haas himself is also a born competitor, with a strong track record in many other forms of motorsport, and he is definitely in F1 for the long haul with the eventual aim of winning. This is obviously very unlikely to happen this year, but with many teams curtailing their 2016 development to prepare for the major rules shake up of 2017, opportunities could arise for Haas to claim more points and move up the constructors standings before the end of the year.

Moving forward, their driver lineup is one of the things they really don’t need to worry too much about. They have one of the best drivers on the grid in Romain Grosjean, and Esteban Gutierrez has played an admirable role thus far, although as previously suggested, he may need to up his game in order to retain his seat, and maybe his role as Ferrari test driver.

F1 is certainly a different world from the ones we would normally associate with the Haas name, and their F1 operation probably won’t be seeing budgets of the like of Mercedes, Red Bull, or Ferrari any time soon, but things are already in place for this new American team to move forward from here and maybe even spring a few surprises in the coming seasons.

Nick Brown

By day I work as a Audio Technician in Liverpool, UK, but when I'm not doing that I'm Formula 1 Editor for RealSport!

I've followed Formula 1 from about 8-9 years old, taking in the battles of the likes of Hill/Schumacher and Hakkinen/Schumacher, all the way through to the modern day battles of Hamilton and Vettel. I am a McLaren fan, so the last few year's haven't been great, but at least Fernando Alonso has given us a few things to smile about in that time!

F1 2016 Midseason Review: Impressive first half for rookie team Haas

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