The Haas F1 team has set its sights on scoring significant points at the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix, having been buoyed by the increased consistency shown in its sophomore campaign.
So far in 2017, Haas has finished in the top ten in five out of seven races, already equalling its total number of points hauls for the whole of 2016 with thirteen Grands Prix still left to run. And although Haas currently has seven fewer points on the board than it did at this stage last year, it has seen a substantial improvement this season with both cars proven capable of scoring.
Speaking ahead of Baku, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner described the team’s 2017 scoresheet as proof that “the team is maturing”, and added that to build on that start the goal is now “to score more points each event, not just one or two points.”
Romain Grosjean, who has scored ten of the team’s fifteen points in 2017, echoed Steiner’s comments on Haas’ progression from its debut season: “I think from last year we’ve made some big steps forward in all places. We’re more consistent. We’ve been able to score more times than last year, which is good. There are still a lot of areas where we want to improve and we can improve.
“Generally, I’m very pleased with the way the team has been moving forward.”
Grosjean also said the team will be aiming to mirror its general improvement over the season with a step forward in Azerbaijan. The Frenchman finished only thirteenth in last year’s Baku race, but said that Haas ought to do better this year now that it has previous experience to work from: “We’ll look at what we did last year, what our setup was like, and what we could’ve done better in the race. I think we’ve got some ideas and we’ll apply that with the deltas of this year.”
Kevin Magnussen is also hunting his first points at the City of Winds on Sunday, having finished close behind Grosjean in fourteenth when driving for Renault last year, but says he is not concerned that returning to the track with a whole new generation of cars will present too great a challenge.
“Now I know the track…coming back this year will be easier to adjust,” the Dane said. “A couple of corners might be easy flat now, maybe even Turn 13 will be flat now, which it wasn’t last year. That will be a cool experience.
“It’s going to be fun. We’re going to be a bit slower on the straights [than last year], so I suspect Baku might be one of the tracks where we’re not going to be that much faster than the old cars, but it’s still going to be massively fun and challenging in the corners.”
Haas will enter the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship, just three points behind next-highest Renault and fourteen points adrift of Toro Rosso in fifth.
James Matthews, Deputy Editor