Haas F1 Team owner Gene Haas has admitted that there were times in the 2017 Formula 1 season that his team ‘felt lost’.
The team ended the campaign eighth in the constructors’ championship, mirroring its debut season effort, though concedes it was much tougher going the second time around.
“In our first season, we were extremely lucky to do as well as we did because in the second year there were a lot of races that we just felt lost,” admitted Haas.
“You would think that in the second year we would’ve been better at that, but I felt that we were actually worse and it became more obvious about what we had to do to find what we were missing.”
A contracted midfield pack added to the stress felt by the team, which saw Renault in sixth just 10 points ahead of Haas in the final standings, despite Haas scoring 18 points more than it had the previous season.
“In the second year, we understood a lot more in terms of what we were missing, and it became obvious mid-year that our cars just weren’t fast enough to really be competitive,” said Haas.
“Some tracks they were quick, but other tracks they weren’t, and the question was, ‘Why did that occur?’ and ‘What are we going to do about that in the future?’, and that’s really a big pivot point for us going forward – how to solve those issues.”
Key among them is tyre management, with Haas suggesting a better understanding of the tyres and their impact on the car will be a significant factor heading into season 2018.
“If you get the tyres a few degrees out of their window, the tyres can almost change completely, and then once they are out of their window, how do you get them back in their window?,” he quizzed.
“The bigger teams are very aware of those issues and they spend a huge amount of their effort and time making sure those tyres are where they need to be.
“Tyres are the toughest issue we have because you have to keep the tyres in a certain temperature range, but how you keep the tyres in that temperature range is how you handle your downforce and your drag and how you handle sliding the tyres,” he added.
“The tyres are very sensitive to downforce, overheating and sliding, but in order to get the tyres right you have to have the right chassis and the right aero.
“Without all of that working right, the cars become very difficult for the drivers and you can’t expect them to make up for a car that just doesn’t have the capability of holding the track.”
A technical alliance with Ferrari sees Haas rely heavily on the Italian team for its mechanical components, an arrangement that is set to continue this year.
Haas is also the only team which has not yet confirmed its 2018 launch date, despite the opening test of the season getting underway late next week, after Red Bull confirmed its plans yesterday.
The four-day test at Barcelona is the first of only two such opportunities for teams to get on track ahead of the opening round of the season in Melbourne, on March 22-25.