Romain Grosjean, Haas, Silverstone, 2019

Analysis: Struggling Haas try upgrade and downgrade at Silverstone

F1 technology

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Haas resorted to running Romain Grosjean’s car in an older aerodynamic specification at Silverstone as the team tried to understand where it has lost its way with the VF-19.

This produced some useful information: Grosjean managed to out-qualify Kevin Magnussen, who continued with a slightly updated version of the VF-19, which featured a small change to its floor.

Haas is trying to get to the bottom of why it struggles to heat up the tyre’s bulk temperature in the race, which has been the root cause of its poor pace. Once the tyres are too cold to be effective, they slide, and the surface temperature shoots up which further diminishes their performance.

Through the season the team has played with set-ups, going softer or harder with the suspension without success. The problems seen at one race will be different to the next. They’ve been chasing their tail, to the point where the team tried an early season spec aero and set up, in order to go back to the baseline where the car was working in Melbourne.

Haas floor upgrade, Silverstone, 2019
Haas floor upgrade, Silverstone, 2019

For the British Grand Prix, the floor area ahead of the rear tyres was revised. A new metal bolt-in section was run, with several small differences.

The floor is surprisingly modular in this area, allowing the team to remove and replace sections without resorting to manufacturing a complete new floor. The metal tyre-deck area is one such modular component and the floor just inboard of it that houses the fin. In the new specification, the old double fin arrangement was replaced by a longer single fin (1), while the metal section featured a revised slot and a large flap (2) formed on the corner of the floor.

This is an extremely sensitive area of the car, the gap between floor and tyre is critical in getting the diffuser working and the fin and slot all help direct airflow along the tyre’s inner sidewall, this reduces the airflow squirting inboard off the tyre and upsetting airflow into the diffuser. While the outer flap helps the increase, the outwash formed all along the floor edge, pushing the front tyre wake awake around the rear tyre and away from the coke bottle area of the car.

However their efforts at Silverstone were frustrated by both drivers crashing on the first lap of the race. This was the last thing the team needed on a weekend where a bizarre row with one of its sponsors added to their troubles.

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While Grosjean was happy with his old-spec car in Q1, he was mystified by a sudden loss of grip in Q2. The problem turned out to be their season-long bugbear, tyre temperature, team principal Guenther Steiner revealed. “The first set was heated up wrongly.”

The team found the fluctuating track conditions a challenge. “In qualifying, between the wind and the track changing, you needed to be out at the right minute of the day to get a good lap,” said Steiner. “Our first was pretty good and we still have to understand why it went down in Q2.”

“I think from our Q1 time we would have started in the top 10 so it’s very strange where it was went but there was a few cars all over the place so I think we were not the only ones,” he added. “I think the track changed a lot.”

But after the race it was clear that the missed opportunity to learn more about their problem frustrated Steiner as much as the fourth consecutive point-less weekend did. “We got some data, not a lot today obviously,” he said afterwards.

“We got four turns, that will not help a lot.”

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Craig Scarborough
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8 comments on “Analysis: Struggling Haas try upgrade and downgrade at Silverstone”

  1. If I was Steiner I’d be looking for ways of having two reserve drivers in the cars for the next race or two

    1. That would only make things worse. You can’t ask a driver about how the car is doing if s/he hasn’t driven that car before.

      1. @losd, moreover, whom exactly could Haas put into their seats in the first place?

        They could possibly try one of Ferrari’s young drivers, but Mick Schumacher is the only one eligible for a superlicence, and moving up to F1 right now when he’s still trying to learn how to adapt to the behaviour of the current style of tyres in Formula 2 would be a big ask. Perhaps, at a push, they could try asking Ferrari to release one of their simulator drivers, such as Wehrlein, but Ferrari might not be willing to accept that request.

        Most other teams seem unlikely to offer to release their reserve drivers too, so I don’t see Haas as being able to dump both drivers at short notice and find two replacements that quickly, even if they wanted to. Furthermore, as you note, throwing two drivers into a car they’re completely unfamiliar with – particularly if they are inexperienced drivers to begin with – sounds like it would probably compound most of the problems the team are having right now with their car.

  2. An inconsistent car package, driven by 2 of the most inconsistent drivers on the grid… Gee, I wonder why they are having issues figuring out stuff?

  3. “We got four turns, that will not help a lot.”
    What does he mean by ‘turns’?

    1. Corners. Turn 1, turn 2, turn 3, turn 4 … crash.

      1. @nase Oh good grief, yes. Thank.

  4. Stephen Higgins
    19th July 2019, 18:30

    I’m surprised they didn’t run one car with a Rich Energy livery and one without to see if it made a difference …

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