How Haas sank from third to ninth in the championship after their strong start to 2022

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Haas started 2022 like a phoenix from the ashes. They began the season with a competitive car, a change of driver in their line-up adding some much-needed experience and an F2 champion waiting to spread his wings in his second year in F1.

Three months ago, they sat third in the constructors standings, basking in the glory of a team reignited. Eight races the story has not unfolded the way they might have expected.

At the last race Haas dropped to ninth in the championship standings, ahead of only Williams. Through a combination of reliability problems, errors from both drivers and other misfortunes, the team’s seven top-10 grid positions have yielded just three points finishes in 2022, all for one driver.

After a fifth successive point-less race in Canada, frustration will be setting in for drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher. The latter is one of only two drivers on the grid yet to mark his scoring card this season.

It was all smiles for Haas at first race of 2022
After a tough 2021 campaign, Haas originally decided to stick with their line-up of Nikita Mazepin and Schumacher for 2022. Their plans changed shortly after testing began and Russia invaded Ukraine. With their Russian sponsor and driver facing sanction, Haas made the quick decision to drop Mazepin and recall Magnussen a year after he’d been shown the door.

The team were elated as Magnussen quickly found his feet in the familiar surroundings. A shift had been felt and the promise of a competitive package was evident heading to the first round in Bahrain.

Magnussen delivered right out of the box, making the most of the car in the early races. He finished an impressive fifth in Bahrain, followed up by top 10 finishes in both Saudi Arabia and Imola. After three points scores in the opening four races, few would have imagined that would be it for Haas so far this year.

But things began to go awry in Miami. After dropping out in Q1, Magnussen’s race went from bad to worse. A pit stop blunder by the team dropped him towards the back of the pack and a collision with Lance Stroll capped a disappointing race on home ground for the team.

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Reliability problems thwarted Magnussen in Monaco and Baku. He has also had two unhelpful first-lap run-ins with Lewis Hamilton. The pair clashed as Magnussen attempted to pass the Mercedes in Spain, dropping the Haas out of contention. Another attempt to pass the Mercedes in Canada cost Magnussen the chance to capitalise on his excellent fifth-placed qualifying position thrown away.

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Monaco, 2022
Schumacher has had two whopping crashes
Speaking after the race in Montreal, Magnussen admitted their poor form is a concern but was unimpressed the race director had shown him the black-and-orange flag forcing him to pit for what he considered minor repairs.

“It’s frustrating, four races or something we haven’t scored points so we want to try to get in the points soon,” he admitted Magnussen.

“The FIA thought we had to pit with that [damage]. It was nothing, this was normal. You’ve got to be able to finish the race with a little bit of scratches on your car, you can’t have it in one piece. I’d get it if the whole front wing is hanging by one stay or whatever, but it was nothing, so I don’t get it.”

Schumacher finished 19th in the standings last season, ahead of his team mate Mazepin, and was clearly the stand-out driver at the struggling team. But the dynamics are very different now he has an experienced driver alongside him.

The 23-year-old has had more than his fair share of problems of his own making, which were publicly discussed ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The biggest causes for concern were two significant crashes, both heavy enough to split the rear away from the Haas chassis.

The first occured during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Schumacher was taken to hospital but passed fit to race, though the team decided it didn’t want to risk further damage due to a shortage of parts. He crashed again in Monaco, the car snapping away from him on a drying track.

Before Monaco, Schumacher had picked up a 13th place in Australia, but from 10th on the grid at Imola made a first-lap error dropped him to the back of the pack.

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Schumacher’s mixed performances and heavy crashes prompted cautionary words from his team principal Gunther Steiner in Azerbaijan. Asked by RaceFans whether a repeat of his Monaco crash would be grounds for serious talks with his driver, Steiner said: “I would say so.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022
Magnussen has clashed with Hamilton twice
“We will have a serious conversation because at some stage we’ll run out of parts,” he continued. “We cannot keep up making them. And that much money you throw out you just can physically not do it. So we need to make sure that here nothing happens.”

Schumacher responded maturely and positively, finishing 14th in Baku. He deserved better a week later in Canada: Running seventh after qualifying sixth, Schumacher was on course for his first points when he stopped on lap 18 with a power unit problem.

“I think we were having a good race up to that point,” he reflected. “Our feeling in the car was great and I think that the pace was looking not too bad either.”

He looked ahead to the upcoming races with characteristics optimism. “It’s quite upsetting but we still have a few more races to go. In terms of pace, it looked very strong. It’s a good thing, we can take it away from here and put it into play for Silverstone.”

It’s been a disappointing series of races for the team. Having prioritised work on their 2022 car throughout last year, several of their reliability problems appear to have come from the Ferrari power unit end of the package. Mix that in with Schumacher’s driving errors, plus a few misfortunes along the way, and their points total looks a lot less healthy than it should.

The team has a major upgrade planned for the VF-22 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. This was originally set to appear in France but will now appear at the final race before the summer break, Steiner indicated during the Canadian GP weekend.

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Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
An upgrade is coming for Hungary
“Maybe it will be Hungary,” he said. “We took a step back because we wanted to check something else in the wind tunnel, but now we are full steam in production for Hungary.

“That’s the aim. We try to better it, but I don’t know where we get to. Hopefully it’s a big step performance-wise. How it looks I don’t really care, but you will see a difference.”

But it’s debatable whether the team needs a step in performance as much as it needs a change in fortune. The positive start to the season has shown there is potential in the car, which is clearly no longer the slowest on the grid.

This weekend’s race at Silverstone will provide another test of whether Haas can rediscover the energy it began the season with. Can they repeat their excellent Canada qualifying form and convert it into their first points finish for more than two months?

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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8 comments on “How Haas sank from third to ninth in the championship after their strong start to 2022”

  1. I really do wish them the best. Maybe if they can string a few results together, either Mick will grow and perform or the team can attract some more sponsorship and a better driver.

  2. The perception seems to be them always running to as tighter budget as possible and hoping others don’t perform but ultimately long term they need to get a budget closer to that of other teams if they want to compete. They’ll always be at the back unless they change strategy. Sure they might get the odd season where they have a competitive package at the start to climb into the midfield but they’ll always fall back given their lack of development. Hoping the budget cap will help them too by bringing other teams closer on budget but at present it just feels like the big teams are going to make it meaningless.

    1. Being (relatively) poor isn’t a strategy, @slowmo.

      1. Indeed S; while one might speculate the team owner could put more money in, ultimately the team have the budget they have. Even with the budget cap, a lot of the teams just don’t get near that, and will have to work with the money there is, even if that means compromising on what otherwise would be ideal.

        I wish them some luck, and hope Schumacher can avoid crashes now which in time will help him get some points.

  3. I also feel sorry for Haas, they ought to have more points at this stage (though the same can be said of many teams!).

    For a “low budget” team like Haas, you get the impression that the start of the season will be their best opportunity to score results, and that as other team out develop them during the season, those opportunities (based on race pace alone) dwindle.

    It has to be said though that despite the lack of updates, the car is still looking pretty decent. I’m sure I read somewhere that they plan on bringing upgrades at Hungary, if so then I hope they work well. Magnussen is a very entertaining driver to watch.

  4. Reminds me of how Sauber would perform traditionally. Strong at the start and always tapering off as the year progressed, although unfortunately for Haas that descent has been more rapid than hoped.

  5. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for Haas. They have repeated this pattern every year. They will never be any more than midfielders at best.

  6. This year there has been quite a few occasions where Haas faced technical issues mostly connected to the power unit/drivetrain. Their speed has been quite decent and without those issues they would surely be higher up the standings.

    But they badly need to start finishing and scoring!

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