It started with so much promise, but HAAS’s 2019 campaign was frustrating on and off the track.
HAAS entered F1 for the 2016 season, becoming the first US based team since 1986. The team is based in Kannapolis NC, with Gene Haas as owner.
HAAS have adopted a slightly controversial system to help establish the team, entering into a partnership with Ferrari which allows them to buy components from the Italian team, they also use American company Dallara to produce the chassis. This system has urked a few within the F1 paddock.
Staff and Drivers
Team Principle: Gunther Steiner
COO: Joe Custer
Chief Designer: Rob Taylor
Chief Ayerodynamicist: Ben Agathangelou
Drivers: Roman Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
Since 2016 they have shown respectable progress. In 2018 they finished 5th in the constructors with a total of 93 points.
The team were looking at 2019 to progress to the “best of the rest” status behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Redbull.
The 2019 challenger was unveiled with a sleek black and gold livery to compliment the new title sponsor, the first time that HAAS have taken a sponsor since entering F1. The sponsor was a little known drinks company called Rich Energy. By the end of the season that little known company would be known for all the wrong reasons, compounding what was an already disappointing season.
The Promise that failed to deliver
Australia started promising for the HAAS team with Grosjean qualifying 8th and Magnussen in 7th, it looked like HAAS would continue the midfield battle to claim 4th and best of the rest.
Australia was a pretty binary result for the team with Magnussen finishing 6th but Grosjean retiring from the race. The next race in Bahrain saw another retirement for Grosjean but this time Magnussen would finish out of the points in a poor 13th.
A trend slowly started to emerge with the HAAS car. They (at times) qualified well but the car was just not good in race set up.
It transpired the team just could not get the Perelli tires to work for them. Eventually the team had to reset the car to the Australian setup which showed some progress but it was just a plaster on a broken arm.
RICH ENERGY GIVES YOU …..a headache
So I have mentioned Rich Energy at the start of the article ….. this relationship came out of left field …. who are Rich Energy? How could they afford to be a title sponsor for an F1 team? …… well it transpired that they couldn’t afford to sponsor them. The relationship “ended” in bizarre fashion during the British GP weekend, when a tweet appeared on the official Rich Energy Twitter account stating that due to poor results the sponsorship deal had been terminated …. What made this truly bizarre was that the team were not aware of this. Rich Energy’s shareholders scrambled with some damage control PR, claiming that the tweet was from a “rogue individual” within the company and that the deal was still in place.
The culmination of the situation was the end of the Rich Energy/HAAS deal with HAAS releasing a statement that accused Rich Energy of not fulfilling the financial agreements of the deal.
The whole debacle was a mess and in the end up was just an annoying distraction from racing.
BACK TO F1……
Another factor for the HAAS team is the driver line up, with Grosjean and Magnussen. Magnussen seems to be a decent driver, however he drives quite hard at times, sometimes needlessly so.
Grosjean on the other hand has had us collectively scratching our heads. He managed to crash while under the safety car in Baku 2018 (don’t tell Ericsson), this season Grosjean managed to spin in the pit lane at Silverstone.
Gunther Steiner has decided to stick with both Grosjean and Magnussen, even with Nico Hulkenburg being available for 2020.
For me, this is probably the biggest decision for the HAAS team, retaining a driver that is so hot and cold. What has saved Grosjean’s Formula 1 career is his feedback. It was his input that helped HAAS reset the car and get some understanding on the issues.
We have to trust that HAAS know more about the reasons for keeping the driver line-up. It could be that the unstable nature of the HAAS car in 2019, didn’t allow for a new driver to come in and try to adapt to the car and the team.
Sometimes consistency is the better option. Time will tell.
The Future is Red ….
2020 is a year of redemption for the HAAS team and for Grosjean. The team need to understand the car and Grosjean needs to show why he is in Formula 1.
The car looks like a good car, it has a lot of Ferrari in its DNA. This doesn’t mean that it will translate to good results. If HAAS can get the Perelli tires to work for them they could be a dark horse for the best of the rest. Time will tell.
Pandemic and 2020
2020 has not been a normal F1 year, the season is due to start at the start of July in Austria. HAAS will have been affected just like all other teams, however they have been largely quiet on the news front.
…” if were doomed to run in the back, I don’t think I’m gonna be part of that”…Gene Haas, Drive to Survive Season 2, Episode 2
During season 2 of Drive to survive Gene Haas seemed to be in a very reflective mood, which isn’t really surprising given how the season went for the team. He seemed to question the long term future of HAAS in F1.
I don’t think that Covid-19 has altered Gene Haas’s opinion, but with F1’s raft of cost cutting measures and the introduction of the cost cap, it could give him some food for thought. With 2020 cars carrying over to 2021 and only minor changes allowed. It could see the HAAS team commit to a longer time in F1 than originally been planned.
Coops – 8th, they will progress from last season, however I feel that the driver line-up is the weakest on the grid.
Tiller- 8th, Grosjean to have another bad year, finally getting the boot, both drivers crashing into each other at some point.
Danny- 9th, Grosjean carrying on driving a bumper car and Magnussen not pulling in any points.