F1 2017 Pre-Season Report: Haas
Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here we assess Haas' chances of progress in their second year.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?
It was a funny old debut year for Haas.
Romain Grosjean kicked off the season with two top-six finishes for the American outfit, while number-two Esteban Gutierrez suffered back-to-back retirements in the same races.
Grosjean's results, at least, were a promising platform to build on, but the French driver enjoyed just three more points finishes over the course of the rest of the campaign and never hit the heights of Australia and Bahrain.
Haas scored just one point in the second half of the season after regressing from their encouraging starting point, ending the season eighth in the constructors' standings.
THE 2017 LINE-UP
Grosjean was Haas' big-name acquisition ahead of the 2016 season and he initially exceeded all expectations with those two big results to kick off the season. He scored all 29 of the team's points, but their drop-off later in the season will have frustrated Grosjean more than most. He nevertheless agreed to another year and has set his sights on being "at the top of the midfield rather than at the back of the midfield".
When discussing the reasons for Gutierrez's exit at the end of last season, Grosjean spoke of the need for Haas to have two drivers scoring points. Step in Kevin Magnussen. The Dane left Renault citing frustration at a "lack of commitment" and their loss could be Haas' gain. Magnussen embarks on his third F1 season with a third different team, but will hope that variety of experience can stand him in good stead to cope with the challenges of 2017.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Grosjean's strong start perhaps skewed perceptions of Haas' maiden campaign but the team will have to sustain any momentum generated by positive results if they are to seriously push through the midfield.
- Narrow the gap between the two drivers. Whatever the reason for Gutierrez's poor performance last season, ensuring Magnussen is closer to Grosjean's level could be crucial to Haas' chances of success. A similar return to Grosjean from Gutierrez last year would have seen Haas challenging McLaren and Toro Rosso in sixth and seventh respectively.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
McLaren's pre-season struggles suggest there could be gains on offer for the teams who finished beneath them last year, and a climb to seventh, at least, should be well within Haas' grasp if they can rediscover their early 2016 form and Magnussen proves an improvement on Gutierrez.
Toro Rosso will be among their main rivals and they will be keen not to drop below Renault, who are also entering their second season since returning as a constructor.