Haas F1 were the last team of the 2017 preseason to reveal their new car; the VF 17 challenger. In it’s first year Haas F1 became the first American constructor to win points in its F1 debut and first constructor overall since Toyota in 2002 to score points on debut. Romain Grosjean made a 6th place finish in Australia and team best 5th in Bahrain to exceed the Carolina based outfits expectations early season but saw only three points finishes the rest of the season.
Difficulty with Brembo brakes and operational issues led to only one point in the second half of the season. Race strategist Ruth Buscombe was also snagged by Sauber and went mysteriously absent halfway through the season which hurt the team as well. Despite this, Grosjean’s early points were enough to finish the team 8th in the Constructors Championship ahead of Sauber, Mannor and even French giant Renault.
Manor gone from this year’s grid, the team should be clear of a struggling Sauber, but should want to take another step forward in the championship which will put them head to head with a number of likely foes who had impressive pre-seasons and R&D such as Renault, Toro Rosso and with their woeful testing in Barcelona, McLaren as well. Is the Haas VF 17 a car that can challenge in the midfield?
Haas kept its French driver Romain Grosjean who joined the team ahead of the the 2016 season. He scored all 29 of their points gaining with a 5th place in Bahrain. Grosjean is a strong driver and with seniority could be considered the ‘#1’ in the team.
Kevin Magnussen left Renault under somewhat of a cloud citing frustration at a “lack of commitment” though the French manufacturer was also not happy with his performance. Nonetheless, Magnussen should be an instant improvement upon Guttierez (now signed with Formula E) and the benefit is mutual for him and the team at this juncture. This will make 3 different teams in his 3rd season for Magnussen and gives him an opportunity a growing team to prove himself against a solid driver in Grosjean.
Pre-Season Testing in Barcelona
Testing went well for Haas, as driver Romain Grosjean recorded 76 laps around Catalunya on the final day of testing bringing his two-week testing total to 346 laps, 1,610.63 kilometers (1,000.799 miles). His teammate Kevin Magnussen meanwhile did 369 total laps, 1,717.695 kilometers (1,067.326 miles) during his two weeks of testing.
In total Haas ran an impressive 715 laps or 3,328.325 kilometers (2,068.125 miles) during its 2017 preseason test. This, compared to only running 474 laps from last year. Magnussen did 119 laps on the final Thursday, the most of Haas preseason. His quickest lap Thursday also was his quickest of the preseason – a 1.20.504 on his 62nd lap with the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tyre.
That time placed Magnussen fifth among 13 drivers participating. After a spin in the morning of the the last day of testing, and a sensor issue which stranded him later that morning, Romain Grosjean posted his best time on afternoon of the last day of testing with a 1.21.110 on Pirelli P Z Purple Ultrasoft tyres puting him 10th of 13 drivers.
After bringing the VF 17 back to the garage a water leak was discovered preventing the team from running in the final 30 minutes of on-track running.
It was said by Romain Grosjean that Ferrari were ‘sandbagging’ and that they were not allowed to use all of their Ferrari PU in Barcelona testing. Exciting, even though you’d assume Renault and Mercedes were also turned down in testing. I think that Haas have done a very good job developing an advanced areodynamic package, there are some very interesting details they have gone with such as front facing elements of the bargeboards, and designs to the floor which are similar to top teams like Mercedes, so it’s nice to see them doing that.
With things at McLaren seemingly going from bad to crisis, I’m going to predict they shock McLaren and Renault, finishing above both but unable to catch the outstanding car Toro Rosso have built finishing them a very respectable 7th in the WCC with Grosjean finishing ahead of Magnussen.
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)