When the teams’ tyre compound selections were announced for the 2016 Canadian GP, one team had made what some described as an “extraordinary” decision. Haas F1 omitted the super soft compound from their selection and then just 3 sets of soft tyre and a whopping 10 sets of the ultra-soft.
Renault also ditched the super soft tyre, though they picked a more balanced 5 sets of soft and 8 sets of ultra-soft.
Haas blitzed their opening in Formula One, and were the first team for a decade to score points on debut since the mega spending Toyota in 2002. After two races Haas F1 were P5 in the constructors’ table with 18 points and looking good with Romain Grosjean making Q3 at the second race weekend of the season.
Yet the team had not been without its pre-season travails. Wing failures in Barcelona and Bahrain were eventually traced to a manufacturing fault rather than a design issue created by Dallara. The manufacturing of the wings is Haas F1 responsibility which just goes to sow the finesse required in creating an F1 car goes way beyond that of a NASCAR.
Wing failures hit the team again in Montreal and a new concern may be the rear wing vibrations that were evident at times on the fast sweeping curves of the circuit Ile de Notre Dame.
Yet Haas F1’s ‘brave’ tyre compound choice for the race in Montreal should be the one which concerns Romain Grosjean the most, given his experience of how other more mature teams operate.
“Look at Mercedes, at how long they struggled,” Grosjean remarked following the race. “In qualifying they were really good and in the race they were nowhere in 2011, 2012, 2013.
“So it took them around three years to understand why they were good in qualifying and not so good in the race”.
Haas F1 ran well in the heat of Bahrain, but in cooler temperatures they are clearly struggling to switch the tyres on. But Canada is famed for its variable weather, with some 3 and 4 seasons on display over the course of an F1 weekend. So why would a team choose to completely omit one of the three compounds on offer when it could be that compound on race day which is best suited to the conditions.
The fact that none of the big teams made the same tyre decision as Haas F1 begs the question what did Haas think they knew that others didn’t? This is just evidence pointing to inexperience in the team’s management, though their willingness to roll the dice and gamble it all on ‘snake eyes’ is rather refreshing.
Romain Grosjean admits the team is in the dark about the solution to their problem at present. “We don’t know what to do but we know where we need to look”, adding wryly, “so that is a positive”.
The Frenchman does have a ray of hope to offer the team as they for now fumble around in the dark. “We need to hope for the summer to come first of all and then try to find more tools to get a better understanding of tyres.”
The weather forecast for Baku this weekend is ambient temperatures in the late 20 degrees Celcius, which may give some respite to the American team and hopefully some joy for their philosophical lead driver.