American team Haas continues to punch above its weight as F1’s newest team, the squad entering the sport in 2016 as a start-up - one that locked-in with Ferrari to the maximum extent allowed.
But, things haven’t gone well in its fourth year on-track with just 26 points and ninth in the standings its lowest to date after 12 rounds.
It makes for the squad’s worst-ever mid-season result - Haas netting 66 points after 12 rounds last year. It scored 35 in 2017 - and 28 in its debut season, when Romain Grosjean was the sole earner.
Haas’ issue: tyres, which it’s found tough to keep in the right temperature range across a race - bleeding performance from the car.
… which can be a black and gold rocket in qualifying - Kevin Magnussen flying to fifth in Monaco after a stunning lap.
But he’s not worried about 2019’s second half, Magnussen explaining exclusively to The Inside Line the squad’s rubber woes are just a blip.
AUDIO QUOTE (English) KEVIN MAGNUSSEN,
F1 DRIVER, HAAS:
“All the seasons of Haas F1 so far have been like an upward trend and this is really the first time that the team has kind of had a bit of a setback. And it’s only the first half of the season so I’m not worrying too much. But obviously keen to get out of this situation as quick as possible.”
The other issue is tension between its drivers on-track - with Magnussen and Grosjean making contact on multiple occasions - Barcelona, Silverstone and Germany… costing the team points.
The likely outcome is that one will go for 2020 - and the smart money is on Grosjean moving on: the Swiss-French racer fast, but still inconsistent. The team expecting a more finessed package when it originally hired him in 2015 after four seasons with Lotus.
SOUNDBITE (English) GUENTHER STEINER,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, HAAS:
“We have got a steep mountain to climb here. We are a new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. And I think in the end I think we found the right guy.”
So the second half of the season needs to be better, not only for Grosjean to retain his drive into 2020 - but for the team’s sake in moving on from its tyre problems. And getting back to what it came to F1 for… racing.