American team Haas came away from Australia with its equal-best result there, sixth place, and first finish at Albert Park since that result in 2016.
… with Kevin Magnussen “very happy” to bag eight points as clear best of the rest behind the two Mercedes, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and both Ferraris. The Dane the last on the lead lap.
The squad has looked strong since pre-season testing in Barcelona, with the VF19 a quick car despite only setting the sixth fastest time per team, and completing 871 laps for seventh in the distance stakes.
It’s also one of just two squads to retain its driver line-up into 2019, along with Mercedes, ensuring consistency across the board.
But to build on 2018, its best year in the sport since its maiden campaign in 2016, it’s got to reduce errors that cost it valuable points.
…errors that were on show in Australia, with a repeat of last year’s drama; Romain Grosjean forced to retire on Lap 32 with a loose left-front - after the wheel nut broke at his pit stop.
It’s a big ask for a squad that has just over 200 people, compared to the 1500 at Mercedes, Haas operating on the second lowest budget in the pit lane.
Haas ran on just $130 million US dollars in 2018, $10 million more than Racing Point in 2018, 60 million less than Renault, which it currently leads in the standings. And $280 million less than biggest spender Ferrari.
But team principal Guenther Steiner says this year will be better, and that he knows the car is strong, enough to deliver results at the next 20 races.
Haas now needs to walk the talk, and rely even more on its culture, which Grosjean talked about early on in his career with the squad.
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.”