Why Haas has even Hamilton surprised

After reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton said the surging Haas team was the "shock surprise" of 2018 thus far, we take a closer look at the American outfit's pre-season performance.

Why Haas has even Hamilton surprised
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18, pulls into his pit area
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was sixth-fastest in pre-season testing despite only using supersoft tyres, as those ahead of him set their quickest times on hypersofts, which are two steps softer in Pirelli's 2018 range.

Magnussen's 1m18.360s, set on the penultimate day of testing, was less than 1.2s slower than Ferrari's Barcelona pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.

Pirelli's estimated performance steps between compounds cannot factor in things like fuel loads and teams' programmes as accurately as the tyre supplier would like, but it is unlikely Haas would have been 1.3s quicker and outpaced Ferrari on supposed tyre-corrected times.

However, that does not make Haas's testing performance unimpressive.

Magnussen's time came on the second of three flying laps, each separated by a 'cool down' to prepare the tyres, during a nine-lap run.

That compares to Vettel's 1m17.182s on the second of two flying laps in a six-lap run just 15 minutes after Magnussen's best. So, fuel loads did not necessarily flatter Haas and track conditions were not a defining factor.

Magnussen proved it was not a one-off with four more laps within a couple of tenths of his best. He never hooked up his best sectors either: his perfect lap would have been an even faster 1m18.114s.

This reinforces why Hamilton described Haas as "very, very fast", although his claim that "I think you're going to see Haas up there this year" requires further scrutiny.

What "up there" means exactly, only Hamilton knows, but Motorsport.com's analysis of each team's race simulations roughly places Haas at the sharp end of the midfield, 1.3s a lap slower than the benchmark Mercedes drivers.

That means a repeat of Romain Grosjean's excellent sixth place in qualifying in Australia last year is possible and could be backed up in the race.

Haas has put itself in a strong position, considering recovering giants McLaren and Renault and last year's best-of-the-rest Force India had all been seen as likelier winners in what is shaping up to be a tight midfield battle.

Updates are expected for all three of those teams in Melbourne, whereas team boss Gunther Steiner has said "nothing big" will come for Haas, so the midfield picture may yet change from testing.

However, the suggestion Haas is only trying to make hay while others misfire early on may prove to be unfair.

Grosjean is adamant Haas has benefitted from its early switch of focus to the 2018 car, which he feels much more in control of.

He enjoyed a confidence that was evidently missing last year, and insisted the brake problems that have dominated his time with Haas have been solved thanks to a permanent switch to Carbone Industrie.

Teammate Magnussen said the question mark for Haas is not building a good car, but rather execution - and the indication from testing is Haas does know how to make this package work.

Now comes the harder task of putting it all together when it counts.

shares
comments
FIA facing Mekies replacement headache for F1 opener

Previous article

FIA facing Mekies replacement headache for F1 opener

Next article

How Williams is trying to keep shark fin benefits in 2018

How Williams is trying to keep shark fin benefits in 2018
Load comments
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Prime

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Prime

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Prime

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku Prime

The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Prime

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship.

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An eventful weekend in Baku full of incident and drama lent the race result an unusual feel, as three drivers scored their first podiums of the year. But it wasn't the eventual race winner who scored top marks in our driver ratings

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021