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F1 2017 midseason review: Haas F1 Team

As the cars have been put to rest for the summer, RealSport look how each team's season has gone so far. Today, we turn to Haas.


2017 expectations vs reality

Haas came into their second season in Formula 1 without huge expectations. Their main goal was to build on the good result they had in 2016. They made one change to their drivers as Esteban Gutierrez kissed goodbye F1 for the second time in his career and was replaced by Kevin Magnussen from Renault. As his partner, Haas kept Romain Grosjean, whose love-hate relationship with the car seems to have continued over from last season.

Haas didn’t have an extremely great start for the season, scoring no points from Australia with both Grosjean and Magnussen taking DNFs. Then in China and Bahrain, the drivers took turns finishing eighth, scoring a total of eight points for the team from the two races. Again in Russia, Haas was left without a single point as Magnussen was a feeble 13th and Grosjean collided with Jolyon Palmer on the opening lap. From those early races of the season, reliability seemed to become Haas’ biggest issue as the team got both cars to the finish line in only one out of the next four races.

After Russia, however, the tide turned. Haas was able to weave together a streak of five point-scoring races extending from Spain in the middle of May to Austria at the beginning of July. All in all, Haas scored 21 points from those races with Austria as their best result, accumulating in 8 points, scored by Romain Grosjean. In fact, most of the points the American team has have been scored by Grosjean, even though he seems to struggle with the car a lot more than his colleague Kevin Magnussen.

In Great Britain and Hungary, the final two races before the summer break, Haas plummeted out of the points leaving them with the 29 points they currently have, sitting tightly between Toro Rosso (39 points) and Renault (26 points).

Prospects for the rest of 2017

When the latter half of the season kicks off in Spa at the end of August, even fifth place in the constructors’ championship is within Haas’ reach. The current fifth-place team is Williams with 41 points, but they underachieved massively in July and their immediate prospects look wavering. Toro Rosso’s fortunes have been similarly developing negatively, so Haas could come from behind and snatch that elusive fifth right under their noses. But there is a notable threat: Renault, and especially Nico Hulkenberg. 

The longer the season has gone, the more the French team has been able to improve, and conflicts between Haas and Renault have occurred, most notably in Hungary, where Nico Hulkenberg first collided with Grosjean, before being pushed off-track by Magnussen in a fierce fight. That fight still continued in front of the cameras, with Magnussen interrupting Hulkenberg as the latter was criticising the Dane on television by telling him to “suck his balls“.

Now with even McLaren-Honda raising their head and slowly entering the mid-field battle, a flying start is crucial for the rest of Haas’ season. Evidently, the first races of the second half of this season will certainly tell if Haas spends the rest of the season looking ahead, or into their mirrors.

Driver battle

Romain Grosjean
Kevin Magnussen
Australia
Q: 6th
R: DNF
P: 0
Q: 17th
R: DNF
P: 0
ChinaQ: 17th
R: 11th
P: 0
Q: 12th
R: 8th
P: 4
BahrainQ: 9th
R: 8th
P: 4
Q: 20th
R: DNF
P: 0
RussiaQ: 20th
R: DNF
P: 0
Q: 14th
R: 13th
P: 0
SpainQ: 14th
R: 10th
P: 1
Q: 11th
R: 14th
P: 0
MonacoQ: 8th
R: 8th
P: 4
Q: 13th
R: 10th
P: 1
CanadaQ: 14th
R: 10th
P: 1
Q: 18th
R: 12th
P: 0
AzerbaijanQ: 17th
R: 13th
P: 0
Q: 13th
R: 7th
P: 0
AustriaQ: 7th
R: 6th
P: 8
Q: 15th
R: DNF
P: 0
Great BritainQ: 10th
R: 13th
P: 0
Q: 17th
R: 12th
P: 0
HungaryQ: 15th
R: DNF
P: 0
Q: 16th
R: 13th
P: 0
Total

Qualifying: 7 – 4
Races: 5 – 5 (+1 joint DNF)
Points: 18 – 11

As we can clearly see from their performance this season, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have actually been very close this year. What mainly accounts for their seven point gap in the standings is Grosjean having the upper hand in qualifying, with Magnussen often suffering heavily from starting at the back of the grid. When it comes to qualifying, it still seems the Dane hasn’t quite got his strategies down, but if he’s able to improve, he could very well challenge Grosjean for the spot of the statistical number one driver.

Driver performance: Romain Grosjean

romgros.jpg

After moving to Haas for the 2016 season, Romain Grosjean has regressed from his years at Lotus, at least if we look at his race positions and points tally. The Frenchman himself said last year that his move to Haas was a strategic one as he hoped it would improve his chances of ending up at Ferrari after Kimi Raikkonen eventually retires, but connections aren’t enough in Formula 1. You have to have proof of your talent to move to a top team, especially to Ferrari, and this year has been quite simply a rollercoaster for Grosjean.

He made an outstanding qualifying to start off the season in Australia, making it into the sixth place in the starting grid. Unfortunately, there was no reward for his efforts as he scored no points from that race due to retirement. In China, he had a horrible qualifying session from which he couldn’t recover, and a great result in Bahrain was wiped away by the Russian GP, with Grosjean being dead last in qualifying and retiring from in the first lap of the race. His ups and downs continued with a dreadful Azerbaijan and Hungary, but an excellent showing in Austria.

It’s hard to get a hold on the real level of Grosjean’s performance as he is so inconsistent. Considering his strategizing for his future, the constant screams to team radio about the brakes most likely isn’t helping his case. Grosjean ended the first half of the season worse than his teammate Magnussen, so for his sake, one must hope the Dane doesn’t outperform Grosjean, or Haas might become more than just a stepping stone for Romain. He should enter the autumn with confidence having a Haas deal in the bag for 2018, even though he might have originally aimed higher.

Driver performance: Kevin Magnussen

kevmagnu.jpg

Kevin Magnussen entered 2017 with an open mind and a new team. Switching from Renault to Haas after just one year with the French outfit must have been a leap in the dark for the Dane but so far it seems to be a good one. Haas has so far shown to be a better team than Renault, and Magnussen has been able to keep up with his teammate Grosjean despite his partner having a year’s head start with the team. Even though Australia was a disappointment, coming 17th in qualifying and not finishing the race, Magnussen was the first of the two to score points for Haas with his 8th place in China.

Magnussen has been a lot more consistent than Grosjean, but it depends whether that’s a good thing remains to be seen. This is because Magnussen’s consistent results in qualifying, for example, have been around 14th to 11th place, whilst “rollercoaster Romain” has qualified in the top 10 four times against Magnussen’s zero. However, the curve is turning upwards for K-Mag as he has out-raced his teammate in the last two races, although without scoring points. 

Keeping up this level of performance and consistency against an erratic teammate is the most important thing Magnussen can currently do. Beating Grosjean in this year’s Drivers’ Championship could open up new doors for him after 2018, as he is under contract with Haas until then. 

How do you think Haas will fare in the second half of the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Mikael Kataja

I now have a podcast talking about F1. After you've read some of my articles here go check out https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzjfVh1WOdY8kHZYHxTmz5A or https://soundcloud.com/ktj-podcast and please leave your comments and thoughts on it!

I'm a 17-year-old Finn with a passion for motorsport and writing. I've been following F1 since 2007, when my still favorite driver Kimi "Iceman" Räikkönen became world champion. I also like Valtteri Bottas, call me overly patriotic... But I support drivers throughout the grid and I hope my views come out in my articles just the right way to add some color to my texts. #ForeverJules

  • Tommy Mckeown

    I hope that they can go further in the remainder of this year and into 2018 my biggest dream would be them to benefit from the next set of regulations and be the new team to beat winning races and championships. I sense wonderful things for Haas in the future and I am looking forward to seeing them in Spa. Go Haas!!!!!!!

  • Dennis Juul Knudsen

    🙂

    Q: 13th
    R: 7th
    P: 0

F1 2017 midseason review: Haas F1 Team

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