Team boss Guenther Steiner's plan worked. Haas put development on hold for a year and a half to prepare for the restart of Formula 1. The US racing team improved from zero to 34 points in 13 races.
Haas has had two tough years. When the Corona crisis broke out in spring 2020, the US racing team was on the brink. Team owner Gene Haas even considered retiring. After a rapid entry into Formula 1, with 5th place in the 2018 World Championship as the highlight, the CNC machine king was confronted with a lull. 93 points from the best season had shrunk to three two years later. Corona also put pressure on the financial situation of the youngest Formula 1 racing team in the field.
Team boss Guenther Steiner was only able to flee forward. He promised the team founder a comeback and baited him into restarting the premier class in 2022. The team should cook on the back burner for a year and a half to be ahead of everyone else and fully concentrate on the 2022 car. After 13 races this season you have to say: The plan worked. Haas can compete for championship points on his own.
Second-best team result in Spielberg
Last year, the Americans were at the bottom everywhere. Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin drove race after race at the end of the field. With no prospect of World Cup points. There are now 34 World Cup points on the account. A bit unevenly distributed though. A strong start to the season was followed by five clear rounds. Then the rays of hope from England and Austria. Mick Schumacher's sixth place and Kevin Magnussen's eighth place plus two points from the sprint race in Spielberg was the second-best team result after the Grand Prix at the same place four years ago. At that time there were 22 points.
The early start of development of the VF-22 paid off. Kevin Magnussen scored three times in the first four races. The car was competitive from the start. But like many teams, there was a lack of experience with the ground effect cars. This sometimes led to mistakes during setup or preparation. But also surprising progress. With a simple slit in the underbody, Haas was able to lower his car significantly from the Spanish GP without the bouncing getting worse. That immediately took half a second.
The Drag Issue
The Haas VF-22 is a car with no identified weaknesses. "If I have something to criticize, it's the stability in high-speed corners," says Magnussen. But the Dane warns against generalising: "Fast corners are not the same as fast corners. In some it works, in others not so well." Steiner complains: "Our car has too much air resistance." Another weakness is tire wear at high temperatures. This often forces Haas to do two-stop races where others get away with one stop.Last in Paul Ricard.
The team led by Head of Technology Simone Resta took its time until the last race before the summer break to launch a first noteworthy upgrade. Team boss Steiner drummed into his engineers: "We don't bring an upgrade just to bring one or because the others do it too. I want to see at least two tenths on the clock. Only then is it worth it."
The South Tyrolean was undeterred by the doubters in the team: "We had a solid basis on which to build. Because we didn't change anything, we were able to understand it better. I think we know pretty well what what to do when something goes wrong." In Hungary, Magnussen got its aero package. Schumacher follows in Spa. But then with the burden of an engine penalty.
The first and only upgrade
The Haas makeover is a step up by the numbers, but not quite on the clock. "Other teams have shown with upgrades that you always take a step backwards with these cars before you move forward again," said Magnussen, curbing excessive expectations at the debut. Steiner was happy: "Kevin said that it feels better in fast corners."
The serve in Budapest will remain the only major upgrade this year. "We only have special wings in our program for the high-speed races in Spa and Monza. We want to use them to reduce the car's drag a little," Steiner hopes. He is betting that by sticking with the new version of the car until the end of the season, the same case as in the first half of the season will occur. "With the work on the car comes understanding. In addition, most of the other teams are now also focusing on 2023."
Simone Resta and his team are already in the middle of the construction of the 2023 car. In addition to the refinement of the aerodynamics, there are mainly two things in the specification. Less air resistance and reaching the weight limit. The car is currently three kilograms heavier.
The air will be rougher next year, Steiner also knows: "We already have the most balanced field. Getting points has become much more difficult than it used to be. After six races, all teams in the field had points in their account. When was that last? ?" The budget cap will bring the participants even closer together. Steiner warns that one shouldn't dream of too much too early: "It will take another two to three years before a team of our size can compete for a podium finish."