Haas F1 2016 Review

Following the end of the 2016 Formula 1 Season, Craig Woollard looks Formula 1's newest team in the form of Haas F1, and their performances with Romian Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez in the car.

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Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Drivers: Romain Grosjean – 13th, 29 points; Esteban Gutierrez – 21st, 0 points

Best grid position: 7th – Grosjean, Japan
Best race result: 5th – Grosjean, Bahrain

2016 World Constructors Championship Position (2015, 2014): 8th (N/A, N/A)

How a brand new team performs in any motorsport category is always a fascinating sight to see. Whilst NASCAR and Formula One are worlds apart, a bridge was forged between the two for 2016 as Gene Haas introduced his ideologies into Formula One, with the help of Dallara and Ferrari. There were a seemingly infinite number of unknowns heading into the season regarding how Haas would perform, but it became evidently clear pretty much from the off that America’s new F1 team means business.

Haas F1 2016 Review

“This is the American Dream” was one of the more uplifting team radio messages to be broadcast this season, as Grosjean supremely utilised a brilliant ‘zero-stop’ strategy thanks to a loophole in the regulations, following team mate Gutierrez’s accident at the Australian Grand Prix, ironically . Many thought that a sixth-place finish would have been unrealistic at any point for Haas in their first season.

Grosjean, however, would go one better at the very next race in Bahrain. By utilising a very aggressive strategy this time, he would finish a brilliant fifth. However, Gutierrez would suffer problems with what would become Haas’ Achilles Heel in 2016 – brakes. And the team would come crashing down to Earth next time out at China, as they would struggle with the cooler temperatures there.

There would be more points for Grosjean next time out at Russia, whilst brakes would hinder him at the next round at Spain. However for Gutierrez, he would finish just outside of the points in 11th – a place he became frustratingly familiar with in 2016 as he finished there no less than five times across the season.

The middle of the season would be marred by a combination of brake issues, driver error, failing to get the tyres working and simply being out-developed or out-performed by the likes of McLaren and at times Renault. Just one points finish would occur in the European (plus Canada) and far-Eastern parts of the season – Grosjean’s seventh at Austria.

Grosjean’s frustrations became more and more apparent as the season progressed, and at times it showed in his driving. However, as a team leader he did a superb job with the team in his first year. Whilst some were critical of his outbursts, which at times included being in the “worst car I’ve ever driven”, many would feel that such comments are unjust, especially with so many drivers being PR robots.

Fittingly, Haas were able to get things at least half-right at their home race at Texas, with Grosjean finishing in the points whilst Gutierrez would fail to finish again due to brake problems. That was the polar opposite of the following race at Mexico, where they would finish only ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Manor.

Ultimately, for a first season it has been a very strong year for the Haas team, which has managed to lure Kevin Magnussen from Renault in place of Gutierrez for 2017. The sophomore season will always be tricky for a new team, especially with the drastic change in regulations coming, but that might just well play into a team like Haas, as Dallara knows how to build a good chassis. If they can finally get on top of their reoccurring gremlins, then the future is bright for America’s Formula One team.
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