Next episode of our Formula 1 mid-term analysis. This time – Haas-Ferrari.
Three problems were enough to undermine Haas F1 first half. The names of these three factors are Kevin Magnussen (26), Romain Grosjean (33) and Pirelli (172).
Magnussen and Grosjean are the two pilots that gave Haas and its team principal Günther Steiner (54) as much of a riddle as the Italian tire maker Pirelli. At least since the Netflix F1 documentary “Drive to Survive” we all know that the Dane Magnussen and the Frenchman Grosjean haven’t been the best of pals especially when it comes to interpreting internal team policies.
This season, yet again, there have been several fatal collisions between those two drivers. The fiercest team collisions so far were in Silverstone and Hockenheim which resulted twice in the loss of valuable points.
Hence, instead of achieving a possible 7th rank in the constructors’ championship Haas ranks only ninth. Instead of earning 35 million euros in prize money, the team with the smallest budget must plan with an even smaller budget for 2020 if these avoidable escapades don’t stop.
Steiner (aka “The Iron Cross”) has plenty on his plate. The South Tyrolean admitted:
“The drivers cost us points, but we also had problems with Pirelli. The tires were like a lottery for us and for most other teams. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they weren’t. I don’t like if the tires have such an impact on our performance and the results.”
“Our car is better than the results suggest.”
Some experts doubt the theory that it can be blamed on any of those three reasons mentioned. Experts like ex-Jordan chief designer Gary Anderson has the theory that the problems come from below: from the car’s floor.
“The tires are a secondary problem and not the main reason…” Anderson suggested.
“It all seems to be related to the aerodynamic importance of the floor. It is not necessarily the subflooring itself that causes the problem. It could also be related to how the airflow is generated in the area of the bargeboards. That contributes to the performance of the flooring.”
The experienced technician sees parallels to earlier times:
“I once had a good car that had exactly these problems. In winter testing it was very well balanced. Then we came to warmer areas, and the rear didn’t give the driver any confidence in braking and cornering. The harder they pushed, the worse it got. It was very difficult to identify the cause of the problem because none of our tools considered the transient effect of aerodynamics. We made a small change to the diffuser, and the car became a completely different beast.”
In any case, Steiner must already plan for 2020. Hence, Grosjean’s days at Haas seem to be numbered when it comes to tackling the drivers’ problems. The Frenchman was almost thrown out in 2018, it seems to be certain he will be this time. According to our source, he might have already found a new home within Formula E.
Replacing Grosjean could be the German Nico Hulkenberg who will have to pass on his seat to Estaban Ocon. Steiner at least has only good things to say about Hülkenberg: “He has a lot of experience and one who has proven many times how fast he is …”
Comparison Magnussen vs. Grosjean
Average faster in Q: -0.127 s
Race comparison: 7-4
Average team points: Magnussen 69%, Grosjean 31%