How many early points opportunities have Haas missed?
Following their head-turning pace in pre-season testing - which prompted many to label them as the 'dark horses' of 2018 - there was a lot of hype ...
Following their head-turning pace in pre-season testing - which prompted many to label them as the 'dark horses' of 2018 - there was a lot of hype surrounding the Haas team, but as things stand they occupy eighth place in the constructors' standings having only claimed eleven points so far, 25 points behind fourth-placed McLaren.
Despite this being their most competitive car in their short history, they scored more points in the first four races of their first season (22) then they have in the first four races of this season (11). Given their potential, how different could things have been for the American team?
Expectations of the Haas team were already heightened heading into the season-opening round in Melbourne; Kevin Magnussen set the sixth-fastest time over the two tests despite only using the supersoft tyres. All of the faster times in testing were set on the hypersoft tyres, which are two steps softer.
Their pace was evident, and it even prompted a couple of teams to suggest that the FIA should delve deeper into the relationship between Haas and Ferrari, who supply them with many of the permitted bought-out parts.
Their Australian Grand Prix dramas were well-documented at the time. Following penalties, they locked out the third row of the grid and, prior to their pit stops, they were running in fourth and fifth ahead of both Red Bulls .
With Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean running in fourth and fifth before their pit stops, it was the loose wheels on the Haas cars which brought out the safety car which changed the course of the opening race so much. However, had their wheels stayed attached, it would have probably created a normal race without the safety car.
In this case, it might have been difficult to prevent Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo from passing throughout the pit stops. So, a potential eighteen points lost for a safe prediction of a fifth and sixth place finish.
All seemed calm within the team, with many looking unworried by the result and optimistic of maximising their chances in Bahrain and the races ahead.
On the face of it, Magnussen's fifth place finish in Bahrain appeared to be a fantastic result for the team - and it was - but an opportunity was missed to bring home even more points.
Grosjean had struggled to replicate Magnussen's pace in qualifying and he was eliminated in Q1, but he had fought his way back into contention for points. However, he was forced into an additional pit stop when a barge board became loose on his car.
Without this, Grosjean believed that a "seventh or eighth" place finish would've been achievable, which is hard to deny, given that those in eighth and ninth - Stoffel Vandoorne and Marcus Ericsson - were running with the hardest available tyre in the final stint. A potential four points lost in Bahrain.
On to China, and Haas managed to line up in tenth and eleventh places for the start of the race, with potential to split their strategies, which they did.
However, Haas were one of the teams to fall foul of the safety car period, which was brought out for the tangle between Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.
Fellow midfield rivals Renault took the option to pit for soft tyres and, whilst Magnussen and Grosjean initially gained track position, they were left on track with older medium tyres.
Both drivers complained of difficulties to generate heat into their tyres and lost places to drivers on fresher rubber - Grosjean even bailed out altogether to put on a set of the ultrasoft tyres for the final ten laps.
Magnussen collected a point for tenth place but, whilst it's difficult to determine whether or not they would've beaten the Renaults (who had good pace that weekend), their chances of finishing higher up were hampered by their decision not to pit under the safety car. A cautious prediction might say an additional one-to-three points were possible in China.
The points lost in Baku were more obvious; Grosjean was running in sixth place when he lost control of his VF-18 under the safety car period, just prior to the final sprint to the finish.
Sixth place alone is worth eight points, but how well he could've done in amongst the restart chaos can only be hypothesised.
Magnussen was also running in tenth place at the restart, but a tangle with Gasly appeared to be the catalyst for him dropping off the pace in the final laps and finishing thirteenth.
The extra points they could've earned would easily put them in the battle with McLaren and Renault for the coveted fourth place, and that's without factoring in hypothetical deductions for their rivals.
Whilst no team can ever execute a perfect season, eliminating just one of their mistakes would have given them a sizeable boost in the early constructors' championship table.
The midfield contest is certainly a competitive one; Renault and McLaren have started strongly and will have bigger development budgets, Force India have made significant performance gains in the last couple of races, and Toro Rosso have shown that they're capable of a surprise result. Will Haas regret missing their early season opportunities?
All images: Motorsport ImagesWill Haas rue their missed chances? Where do you think they can finish in the final standings? Leave your comments below.
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How many early points opportunities have Haas missed?
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|FP2||Fri 25 Oct|| |
|FP3||Sat 26 Oct|| |
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