[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] HAAS F1 TEAM: REINVENTING STARTUPS

American team Haas was the talk of the Albert Park paddock, with its pre-season pace confirmed as the best of the rest after the top teams.

It’s an incredible situation, with the team operating on Formula 1’s second smallest budget last year with 100 million pounds, just three million more than lowest spender Force India.

The squad is also small, with an estimated 200 people across its US-base in Kannapolis, North Carolina – and its Banbury race shop in the UK. A far cry from the 1500 people at Mercedes across Brackley and Brixworth.

Regardless, Haas is the most successful start-up team this millenium with more points paying finishes than any other – including Toyota. 

The squad is the vision of American machine tool magnate Gene Haas, who is not only a racing veteran, and co-partner in top NASCAR team Stewart-Haas – but has the right mentality in creating success.

SOUNDBITE (English) GENE HAAS,
FOUNDER, HAAS:
"Formula 1 is a tricky business, it's like any other kind of business –
you have to learn it. And the best way to learn it, is to learn it from other people.”

And learn from other people Haas has, with his business and cars built on rock-solid partnerships with suppliers and manufacturers.

SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“He’s great. He loves racing, he understands racing, he knows we’re not going to be on the first day winning the race.”

The chassis is made by Dallara, while Ferrari provides the power unit, gearbox, use of its windtunnel for aerodynamic work and more. The squad using the technical regulations to the maximum in buying anything it does not have to manufacture.

… all supported by a culture of continuous improvement.

SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“A lot is coming from the mentality and the fact that failure is not a problem as long as you don’t repeat it. So we can try hard, everyone can do his best, and we’ve got the support of Ferrari, which is a big help for us.”

But not all problems are so easy to fix, the team suffering brake issues on Romain Grosjean’s car over its first two seasons… 

… while Haas shot itself in the foot twice at last weekend’s Australian GP – wheel nut issues at the pit stops forcing a double retirement - and a huge $10,000 US dollar fine from the FIA.

The searing pace is there though, with Kevin Magnussen running as high as fourth at Albert Park, Romain Grosjean fifth, before retiring.

A competitive car in F1 though, comes with extra issues like suspicion from other teams, with rivals Force India and McLaren complaining about Haas’ “magic” pace in Melbourne.

“They have obviously a Ferrari replica of last year, and Ferrari were winning here," said McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Regardless, the team is moving forward, ahead of its far more established midfield rival Renault – which has a much larger workforce - and 53 million pounds more each year to invest in performance.  

It also has two strong drivers, Grosjean working very well with Magnussen, who proved in Melbourne he’s capable of top results.

SOUNDBITE (English) ROMAIN GROSJEAN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“Kevin is a great driver, [he] has got a lot of experience, finished on the podium here back in the past, so you know he’s a fast driver and he’s a good recruit for the team.”

Haas may have so far earned its stars and stripes, but now has to ensure it has budget for development to retain its place or be left behind when its rivals start adding performance to their cars.

The race is on for F1’s American squad.