As Formula One prepares to contest the fourth round of the 2022 F1 championship this weekend in Imola, some team bosses are questioning the legality of the Haas VF-22 this year after a very good start to the season for the small American outfit. Indeed the investigation will implicate Ferrari as well.
Since its arrival in Formula 1 in 2016, the Haas team has been sourcing certain parts from Ferrari, from whom it borrows the gearbox and the engine. Since this year, Haas has even integrated its design office within the Maranello factory with a group of engineers led by Simone Resta in a building that is totally “separate” from Scuderia Ferrari. It’s tricky to believe that there is zero transfer between the teams.
Since the start of the 2022 season, the Haas team has managed to score twelve points in three races and has therefore made a very solid start to the season, especially if we compare it to the 2021 campaign during which the small American team did not score a single point with a single-seater whose development had been abandoned in order to concentrate its resources on the 2022 car.
These excellent results are obviously causing a lot of talk in the paddock and some people are openly asking whether the Haas VF-22 is not a simple “copy” of the Ferrari F1-75, which would be forbidden under the current regulations.
Teams have asked the FIA for clarification and when asked if they feel the Haas is too similar to the Ferrari, some team bosses are clear:
“It’s a difficult question. Haas has made a huge leap forward from last place [in 2021]. They’ve been solid and they even made it to Q3 in Bahrain I think. So it’s an interesting step,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“For us it’s a bit of a learning exercise, we have 2000 people and we’ve been successful in the past, and all of a sudden you’re up against a much smaller team. So they must have done a great job,” concludes the Mercedes boss.
Fred Vasseur, the Alfa Romeo director, goes even further than his Mercedes counterpart and wants to trust the FIA: “It’s like the old and new financial regulations, for example, where the most important thing is to be able to control everything, because as we have restrictions on the wind tunnel, we also have a restriction on the budget. But we have to trust the FIA, they are doing a good job. And of course they will be on every case,” said the Frenchman.
On the Alpine side – currently fifth in the constructors’ championship – Otmar Szafnauer, the team’s principal team leader, said he was very surprised to see such a high level of performance from such a small team when the technical regulations have been radically changed this year.
“It’s a small team that has been doing well all winter, from last place to sometimes the third fastest team and that’s a bit surprising,” said the American.
“I thought – although Toto [Wolff] didn’t say it – that the pecking order would stay pretty much the same, because usually when there’s a big rule change – over the years that I’ve been able to spend in Formula One – the bigger the rule change, the more it favours those with the know-how, the infrastructure and the tools to really exploit the new rules,
“So it’s a bit surprising that Haas are where they are for a small team. But I hope the FIA will investigate and come to the right conclusion between the similarity of the two cars [Haas and Ferrari].”
Prior to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the Haas team is seventh in the constructors’ world championship, one point behind Alfa Romeo, ten points behind Alpine and 53 points behind Mercedes.