Haas VF-16: Technical analysis

2016 F1 season

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Huge interest surrounded the unveiling of the Haas VF-16 – the first car produced by a new Formula One team since 2010.

Securing a supply of 2016-specification Ferrari power units should increase the team’s chances of being competitive from the off, but the technical collaboration between the two runs much deeper than that. By exploiting the ‘listed parts’ regulations to the fullest extent, Haas is drawing as deeply from the expertise of the team which finished runner-up in last year’s championship.

The listed parts regulations stop well short of allowing teams to run full ‘customer cars’ so while there’s plenty of Ferrari DNA in the VF-16 there are significant areas of the car which are Haas-original. But an understandable desire to follow the lead set by F1’s front-running teams means there are many similarities between the two designs. Haas has also recruited several Ferrari staff and has access to its wind tunnel.

The car ran well out of the box on its first day of testing yesterday. The only significant problem for Romain Grosjean was a front wing failure which occurred at high speed. However the team swiftly had the car back on track and fitted a revised wing to the car during the second day of testing: a promising display of the new team’s operational readiness.

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Nose and front wing

Esteban Gutierrez, Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Outside of the ‘listed parts’ restrictions there are two significant areas where Haas must do their own design work. These are the monocoque and all bodywork which comes in contact with airflow – which there is a lot of.

Haas has not gone for the full short nose/thumb-tip preferred by the likes of Red Bull, but a halfway house between that and the more stubby Mercedes/Renault approach. The front wing mounting pylons are spread apart to allow for more airflow beneath the front bulkhead, whilst the rounded tip is simple but effective. It stands to reason that with this being their first season and as they need to complete as much mileage as possible their priority will have been to get the car through the crash tests and on the track.

The front wing has Ferrari design cues all over it: the outboard section, endplates and cascade winglets are very SF15-T-esque. Haas themselves admit they drew inspiration from other teams’ designs when conceiving their first F1 car, and the front wing’s inboard flaps are much like those on last year’s championship-winning Mercedes.

Further up the nose and at the very front of the monocoque is a small bulge where the vanity panel has to clear the heave spring element of the front suspension. This appears to be a temporary panel which may well be replaced with an S-duct-compatible design ahead of Melbourne. Adopting a current car design trend such as that would be another sign the newcomers mean business.

Suspension and brake ducts

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Both front and rear suspension components are under the listed parts scheme, so Ferrari send these bits over to Dallara for assembly. The wishbones, pushrod set-up, steering arm and internals are all identical to that of the SF16-H (see image), although they can still play around with the geometry slightly.

The Haas rear suspension is connected to a Ferrari gearbox, too, so this will all be the same as the Scuderia’s latest car.

As the suspension is attached to the hubs, it makes sense for Haas to design brake ducts around them similar to that of Ferrari as well. In fact, both the front and rear brake ducts are virtually identical to the Maranello outfit.

The parts they are running at present will be adequate for testing purposes but expect the race specification versions to be available next week for the final test.

Chassis and bodywork

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

This is an area where the VF-16 is unique and it is clear from the design it is an area of infancy for Haas.

The split triangular airbox (the upper inlet feeding a small cooler and the lower providing air for the turbocharger’s compressor) is supported by two sculpted legs to provide strength to the roll hoop, whilst a secondary inlet underneath is used to cool some of the ERS electrics.

Although the sidepods share a similar inlet shape to the Ferrari their overall profile differs considerably. Most likely the team’s inexperience with the cooling of the power unit has led them to take a more conservative route.

Hence we see a tapering of the rear bodywork as it forms the Coke-bottle section. Beneath the main aperture on each side are two thin slots which, like the smaller inlet beneath the roll hoop, will provide cool air to the electronics of the car. Most teams incorporate these sub-inlets within the main inlet, but Haas is probably being extra-cautious.

The vertical turning vanes that sprout from the sidepod shoulder are largely similar to Ferrari, as are the wing mirrors. Again expect further developments in this area as they are quite basic at the moment.

The VF-16 also copies over the turned-down blades on top of the roll hoop from the Ferrari, albeit a less aggressive form.

Rear wing and floor

Haas, VF-16, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

The rear wing is very similar to Ferrari’s aside from the central mounting pylon. The main exhaust outlet is, like the majority of the field, flanked by two wastegate pipes beneath it.

Haas appear to have converged on the same floor solution as Mercedes ahead of the rear tyre, installing four L-shaped slots to divert tyre squirt away from the diffuser. This is an intriguing area of development and another area where we will be able to benchmark F1’s the newest team’s ability to keep up with the development pace of its rivals.

Haas, VF-16, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

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11 comments on “Haas VF-16: Technical analysis”

  1. It seems quite well thought for a newcomer, would be interesting to compare their approach to teams like Manor or Sauber. Despite being conservative on some area, I like the fact that they are trying things. Will see if it works or not for them, but at least they seem to have the right mindset for F1.

  2. Really enjoying these articles, they just go to show how different all the cars are even when they look so similar at a rough glance.

  3. I like what Haas have done, and hope that they will show that you can break into F1 with decent, consistent, results, if you have the right connections and play it smart. They’ve got as much help from Ferrari as they legally can have, and they’ve gone conservative on the cooling to make the car as reliable as they can.

    That being said, the fact that they have all of this help from “contacts” yet will still likely score a couple of points at best shows the problem with inequality in Formula 1. Why should you need “contacts” and manufacturer support? Of course, trying to enter any support with no existing connections to other major teams and support of some kind would seem naive, but the level of help Haas has is highly unusual (and exists only because Ferrari are effectively getting a free B-team). It would be like if a new team joined the Premier League, and Chelsea decided that they would let the new team train with them, and lend a couple of their players to them for some matches too. How ridiculous would that seem?

    1. It would be like if a new team joined the Premier League, and Chelsea decided that they would let the new team train with them, and lend a couple of their players to them for some matches too. How ridiculous would that seem?

      Interesting remark @vmaxmuffin, in the context of the premier league or F1 it indeeds feels strange, almost like them cheating. But when we think about the NHL for example, where the back bench teams get to pick first in the drafts, it makes far more sense.
      Overall, it should help create a solid basis to have a team that can actually be part of the field instead of having to run its own races a few seconds per lap behind all the others. But I do think that this is the maximum support / leg up a team should ever get!

    2. We do have that already with teams letting players go on loan in the Premier league fairly often. Other teams have done this in the past as well, Force India had a connection to McLaren for similar parts before.

      I don’t think its such a bad thing, I’d rather see a full grid than 16 cars on the grid because the slower teams weren’t fast enough.

    3. the fact that they have all of this help from “contacts” yet will still likely score a couple of points at best shows the problem with inequality in Formula 1.

      I don’t know, I think it’s quite possible that they will have a couple of points after just the first race. And Haas probably won’t have the money problems that plague many of the midfield teams. That can go a long way.

      On another topic, to echo what others have said, I love these tech articles. Nice work!

  4. Great article! Thanks. I also can’t say enough about the cool slider widget.

  5. “… all bodywork which comes in contact with airflow…”

    Is there any ‘bodywork’ which doesn’t?
    (Genuine question.)

    1. I may be wrong, but I believe this allows them to use non aerodynamic parts like suspension, gearbox and such.

  6. The front of the Haas is very good looking – way better than Ferraris or McLaren.

  7. Great article, thank you

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