Haas admits underestimating F1's technical challenges

Gene Haas says he underestimated the technical challenges his Formula 1 team would face when he decided to join the the sport, and admits the situation is a bit "overwhelming".

The American squad made his track debut last week in the opening test at Barcelona, and surprised with its performance, enjoying a productive week of work in its maiden outing.

This week, however, the team has struggled to get any running done.

Esteban Gutierrez completed just 23 laps on Tuesday before being halted by a problem with the fuel system, and the Mexican has managed just one installation lap so far on Wednesday after being hit by issues with the turbo.

Team owner Haas admitted the technical aspects of running a Formula 1 car have taken him by surprise.

"This is not North Carolina, I've come to realise that," Haas told reporters at Barcelona. "The complexity of the cars and the engines, and what they are doing with them is way beyond anything I have ever expected.

"The technical aspects of these cars are fascinating. I think it's a challenge in one hand. On the other hand, I don't think fans really understand how complex it is.

"Even I didn't know. I was kind of naive too about what makes these cars run.

"If you stumble and you don't get up and try again... You are going to stumble. It's a very complex car, it's a complex way to race cars, so right now it's a little bit overwhelming, to be honest with you."

NASCAR start tougher

Haas claimed, however, that the challenge is not as big as when he set up his NASCAR team nearly 15 years ago.

"We started in NASCAR in 2002, so the first few years were actually quite a bit rougher than what we've experienced here," he added.

"That was building a team without any knowledge. At least here we have some racing knowledge about racing a car. I think we are further ahead that I was when I started in NASCAR.

"This could be a very tough learning process."

Valuable experience

Although Haas concedes that losing so much track time is far from ideal, he reckons the experience of having to troubleshoot the car will actually be helpful for his team.

"We are nervous," he said. "This is very valuable track time, but the good side of it is that it's good time for the team to figure these cars out.

"This is a brand new team, a brand new car, brand new engine package, so the process of actually troubleshooting and taking things apart and putting them back together I think has been very valuable in terms of the experiences that we are going to have."

Staying realistic

Although the team had said before the start of testing that scoring points was a realistic goal this year, Haas says the main goal right now is to be able to run reliably.

"We jumped in with both feet without fully understanding it, but I'm not sure how else you learn unless you just jump in and test the waters, so that's what we are doing right now," Haas said.

"So if people expected us to go out and in the next few races suddenly compete with the big boys I think that wasn't realistic.

"The biggest expectation would be to go to the races and be reliable and not suffered the typical problems you have trying to get one of these cars on the track.

"I think it's maybe a bit more of a challenge than we expected but I think it's just a matter of time.

"I think it's just a matter of learning and learning from our mistakes."

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Haas F1 Team
Article type Breaking news