There is a new kid on the Formula 1 grid this season, with Haas F1 pushing the number of teams in the paddock back up to 11.
The success rate of new teams in F1 has not been great in recent years, with just one of the four teams that were granted entry to the sport in 2010 still in existence, and Manor, formally Marussia, have certainly not had an easy time of it.
However, there is reason to be optimistic that Haas F1 can succeed from the outset.
The Ferrari connection
Haas’ technical partnership with Ferrari has been discussed at length, and it’s a definite boost for the team. The model that Haas have used to prepare for their entrance into the sport could well prove the blueprint for future teams.
Haas have produced as few parts as they can, leaning heavily on Ferrari – they’re using the Scuderia’s power unit, gearbox and suspension among other things – and making use of a chassis made by Dallara.
The Ferrari-Haas relationship is so close that Mercedes complained to the FIA about the work the two outfits were doing. The FIA rejected Mercedes’ complaints, but while it’s Ferrari who the Silver Arrows are worried about, the rest of the field should be concerned by what Haas can achieve.
They’ve waited for the right moment
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 10, 2016
Haas will be making their debut this season, but the team has been in the works since 2010, and initially looked set to join the grid ahead of the 2015 season. However, it was decided to defer entry to 2016, and that could prove to be a masterstroke.
The result is that Haas F1 will head to Australia as the best prepared new team since Toyota nearly 15 years ago; while other new outfits haven’t been ready to race when the lights went out at the season-opener, Haas had 31 laps under their belt after the first day of testing.
A strong pre-season
Yes, the second Barcelona test did not go according to plan, with a turbo failure resulting in the team missing out on a full day’s running, while a brake-by-wire malfunction twice forced Romain Grosjean to pull up on the penultimate day. However, it would have been foolish to think that there would not have been teething problems.
The struggles of the second test means that Haas don’t quite have the mileage they would have liked, but starting from the back of the pack in Melbourne will not be the end of the world, there is enough from pre-season to suggest they won’t be there for long.
The Frenchman took a gamble by joining Haas when it appeared that Lotus were something of a sinking ship. Had Renault’s takeover happened earlier it would no doubt have seen Grosjean remain with the Enstone team, but Renault’s loss is Haas’ gain, and with Grosjean eyeing a move to Ferrari down the line it’s a switch that does make sense.
In Grosjean, Haas have a sensible and capable driver who will be able to get a lot out of the car. Coming off the back of four full seasons of racing, Grosjean knows the ins and outs of F1 and this will be an advantage to Haas where the likes of Manor are armed with two rookies.
They know racing
Haas F1 may be new to F1, but team chiefs Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner have great racing pedigrees.
Founder and chairman Haas lives and breathes motorsport, and formed the Haas-Stewart NASCAR team in 2002. Team principal Steiner has 30 years of motorsport experience in various capacities in a number of different classes, including with Jaguar in F1.