Sunday, September 27, 2020

1 Racing Mind’s 2020 Formula 1 Mid-Season Team Report Card: Haas F1 Team


Photo Credit: Mark Sutton LAT Images/Pirelli

Team Grade: D+

Driver’s Grade:

Romain Grosjean: C

Kevin Magnussen: C

Summary of First Nine Races:

Scoring championship points in their first-ever Formula 1 race in 2016, Haas F1 Team’s ability to find a fast-track into one of the valuable top-10 finishing positions of a grand prix was seen as a massive triumph. The American-based, Ferrari-affiliated Formula 1 team experienced a strong 2017 and 2018 season cementing the group as a solid mid-field competitor knocking on the door of podium contenders. Last year was somewhat of a regression for the Haas F1 Team as points-paying positions were harder to come by. The team’s tumultuous relationship with title sponsor Rich Energy compounded a 2019 season Haas F1 Team would have wanted to move forward from. 

Unfortunately for the squad and its returning driver lineup of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, the start of the 2020 season could be experiencing one of its worst in the team’s young history. After nine races, the team has only collected a single championship point when Magnussen crossed the finish line of the Hungarian Grand Prix in 10th place. Although scoring the Haas F1 Team’s only top-10 for 2020, the Danish driver has more often been found in the garage at the end of grand prix events. Kevin Magnussen has failed to complete five races with mechanical problems being the culprit in all-but two occasions. The 2020 Formula 1 season for Romain Grosjean has so far not resulted in a point-scoring position at the end of a grand prix with best efforts being a pair of 12th place finishes. Grosjean has been luckier when it comes to completing races compared to his teammate in the Haas VF-20 race car. The Frenchman’s only retirement this year occurred at the Austrian Grand Prix caused as a result of brake problems.

Perhaps Haas F1 Team’s best showing this season, the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix involved a risky yet effective strategy to place Grosjean and Magnussen on slick tires at the beginning of the race while other entrants started on intermediate tires. Starting the race from pit road, the Haas F1 Team cars were at the rear of the field for the first lap but climbed the running order as other competitors pitted. After 6 laps at the Hungaroring, Kevin Magnussen was in third place with Romain Grosjean behind him in fourth. Losing this position over the course of the race, the strategy allowed the team to overcome the deficits of this year’s car. 

Using power units and other components from Ferrari, the VF-20 appears to be struggling for performance along with the entry from competitor Alfa Romeo Racing. Besides the pace on the track, Haas F1 Team’s VF-20 race car is experiencing higher than average reliability problems than other entrants on the 2020 Formula 1 grid.


Prediction for Rest of the 2020 Season:

Since its inception, the Haas F1 Team has proven itself to be able to achieve a lot with a lower budget. The American team’s ability to over-achieve in grand prix events have generally been supported by acquiring components from a stronger Ferrari team. Using Hungary as an example, the Haas F1 Team will need to utilize more gambles to position their cars up into the top-10 for the remaining races. It’s reasonable to predict a least one or two more showings in point-paying spots for the Haas drivers.

Into the final eight races for the 2020 Formula 1 season, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean are also under pressure to earn a place in the series for next season. Haas F1 Team is rumoured to be considering options to breaking up the four-year driver pairing selecting to replace one or both drivers. 

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