Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya

Haas make great gains but fall short of potential with fifth

2018 F1 season review

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Haas continued the clear progress it has made since it arrived in Formula 1 three years ago. However despite have built what was clearly the fourth-quickest car in the field this year, they ended the season fifth in the championship.

The team continues to source non-listed parts from Ferrari including a power until which was a match for the best in the sport. Haas also uses much of the Ferrari rear end, which led it to adopt similar aerodynamic characteristics to the red cars.

Consequently rival midfield teams eyes the VF-18 warily. Many pointed remarks about the similarities between the Haas and Ferrari were made, but the fact of the matter is the team’s cars comply fully with the regulations. However the debate over B-teams isn’t going away.

But with such a competitive package, the team knows it should have done better in 2018. “We had the performance in the car to probably finish fourth in the championship but we haven’t been able to really capitalise enough,” admitted the team’s leading scorer Kevin Magnussen.

“We’re a very new team and I think we are punching above our weight a little bit with a car that’s a little bit too good for the experience we have.” This was certainly true at the first race of the season, where the team missed out on a significant haul of points due to a double blunder in the pits which saw both VF-18s sent back onto the track with loose wheels. Until then the two cars had been running comfortably in no man’s land between the midfield and the frontrunners.

“I think fourth place was lost in Australia more than anything else,” said team principal Guenther Steiner. “22 points, plus the points which Renault scored, we would be still fourth now.”

Haas team stats 2018

Best race result (number)4 (1)
Best grid position (number) 5 (6)
Non-classifications (technical/other) 9 (3/6)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,246 (88.7%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2017)6 (8)
Championship points (2017)93 (47)
Pit stop performance ranking8

However many other chances to make the different between themselves and fourth-place finishers Renault were also squandered.

Romain Grosjean had a conspicuously poor start to the year, which at times recalled his dark days of late 2012. He crashed behind the Safety Car in Baku and caused a first lap collision in Spain, but in Austria he led the team to their best result to date, with fourth and fifth places.

That wasn’t the end of Grosjean’s travails, however. He collided with Magnussen at Silverstone, then went out in a crash with Carlos Sainz Jnr, and was in trouble again in Singapore and Austin. That left him dangerously close to facing a race ban having collected 10 penalty points at one stage. Nonetheless the team kept the faith in the driver who has started every one of their races.

Both drivers lost points due to errors on the team points which led to disqualifications. Grosjean was stripped of sixth place in Italy when the team chanced running a floor which had already been rendered illegal by a new technical directive. Haas claimed they hadn’t had time to update their floor, an explanation which pointed again to their limited development resources – as did their decision to skip the mid-season test at the Hungaroring.

Magnussen lost a potential eighth at the team’s home race by using too much fuel – a situation the team was clearly aware of during the race yet failed to adequately manage.

While the team should have made more of its 2018 campaign, it ended the season in strong shape having improved its championship position, secured significant extra income and made an early start on its preparations for 2019.

“We stuck to our plan,” Steiner explained when asked about their 2019 development. “We didn’t change anything.”

“I think this year the car was pretty good all the time so we weren’t panicking to put something on to do more than we planned at the beginning of the year. So I’m quite relaxed about that one.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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8 comments on “Haas make great gains but fall short of potential with fifth”

  1. A great improvement on the first two seasons, but too many unforced errors ultimately proved costly for their chances on the fourth place in the WCC. This season was their best chance at that, and they threw it all away. Renault is only going to get better, so next season they should be even more clearly ahead of the likes of Haas and RPF1 pace-wise, and also Mclaren if they’d finally get their act together.

  2. That’s pretty much what I’ve been thinking. Haas could perform even better next year, improving their points haul, and yet possibly wind up sixth or seventh in the final standings.

    1. this was in reply to Jere

  3. Experience is something you can not buy as a team. You can put experienced people om some places but the insight in the teamdynamics has to grow by time.
    Compared with Renault, with lots more funding, a more experienced factory and team and more potential Haas did great.
    Nice to see a new team on top of the midfield.

  4. It is such a shame that Haas do not at least have one driver who can perform at the top of his game throughout a season. Magnussen started great but turned all the more anonymous throughout the season, to the extent that he actually lacked some pace at the end and was solidly outperformed by Grosjean. Grosjean in turn was remarkably unreliable, one day he was great, they other he was at the mercy of the stewards. Both drivers have to step to warrent their place in Formula 1. With that said, the team indeed shot itself in the foot more then once. Such a shame – I think the car was brilliant.

  5. TBH they can say whatever they want about Australia’s pit blunders, which probably cost them the place, but they could’ve recovered all that and more with a better driver line up. It’s similar to the Ferrari situation… yes, the team made mistakes, but it still could’ve been better.

    I had forgotten about Grosjean’s spin at Spain! my gosh was that something else…

  6. They need to get better drivers now to advance up the grid. With midfield dri ers they will always be mudfield

  7. Haas are the team to watch. When you consider Liberty Media’s desire to bring in budget restrictions, the business model Haas uses is one FOM should be encouraging. For example, if you take Williams, they followed what we’d consider the traditional F1 business model, they operate on a $150M budget and finished 11th in the Constructors’ Championship. Haas uses a “buying is better” business model, operates on a $130M budget and officially finished 5th in the Constructors’ Championship.
    Maybe Williams could have done better if they’d designed their car better, but the problems with their car appear to started some years ago and have gotten worse each year until now. Car design, at least as far as Williams are concerned, seems to be getting beyond them, and their performance is suffering. Haas, on the other hand, knew this was beyond them, so they bought parts that were designed better.
    Also, when Haas buy parts and services from Ferrari that money helps to fund Ferrari’s own research and development, which benefits both teams.

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