The Haas F1 team were conceived less than a decade ago but unlike other ‘new’ Formula One teams of the past quarter of a century they remain on the grid and are part of the paddock fabric.
US born Gene Haas decided to expand his motor racing empire from NASCAR into formula One in 2014, though the American made himself somewhat of a laughing stock amongst fans and the paddock aficionados with his bold claims.
Haas F1 ‘do it their way’
The American businessman decided to go about F1 racing in a different manner to most before him. The Haas F1 team were to partner with Ferrari and buy in every component legally allowed rather than spend time attempting to design their own.
“There are two ways of building this car,” said Haas.
“You can do it all yourself, or you can go out and get as much as you can from other people. We’re going to get as much as we can from other people. I think reinventing the wheel is a waste of time.”
When Haas F1 git the ground running at the start of the 2016 season there were grumblings of discontent amongst other ‘lower order’ teams about the relationship with Ferrari.
Financial woes force driver changes
Romain Grosjean claimed sixth in the season opener in Australia and followed it up going one better in Bahrain next time out.
Haas F1 continued to outperform expectations and in 2017 they replaced Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez with Kevin Magnussen and the pair formed the basis of a solid partnership for the US owned team for the next four seasons.
Financial problems plagued Haas F1 during the 2019 season as title sponsor Rich Energy suffered numerous legal problems having plagiarised the logo of another company.
Rich Energy cancelled their deal with Haas following the Italian GP leaving the squad short of cash to complete the season. Haas did complete the year in 9th place in the constructors’ championship with 28 points, the team’s worst finish since their founding in 2016.
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USA owned team displays Russian colours
However, financial problems continued into the following season and tensions grew between the owner and Gunther Steiner the team principal.
The Netflix series caught a telephone conversation between the two where Steiner was given the ultimatum to ditch the current drivers and find a pair that would increase the sponsorship into the squad, or risk running out of cash.
Steiner then ditched Magnussen and Grosjean and for 2021 recruited Mick Schumacher along with Nikita Mazepin – the son of a Russian oligarch – who owned the giant fertiliser producer, Ukrali.
Controversially the US owned Haas F1 livery for the year contained the Russian colours in defiance of the World Anti-Doping Agency ban on the use of the Russian flag and anthem following a state sponsored doping scandal.
Steiner gets his way over experience
Steiner never wanted to run two rookie drivers having garnered Haas F1 success based upon experience hands behind the wheel.
Mazepin proved to be the epitome of a ‘pay driver’ and upon the invasion of Ukraine by Russia both he and Ukrali were ditched and Kevin Magnussen returned to the fold.
Racing alongside Mick Schumacher, Magnussen demonstrated Steiner’s approach of recruiting experienced drivers delivered better on track results and by the end of 2022 the writing was on the wall for Mick who couldn’t compete with his vastly experienced team mate.
Haas driver journey was complete for 2023 as Steiner brought back into Formula One Nico Hulkenberg who had been without a permanent seat for three seasons since being allowed to leave by Renault.
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Magnussen under pressure
Hulkenberg had been comprehensively beaten by his team mate Daniel Ricciardo that year finishing P14 in the drivers’ championship, is lowest since debut in 2010.
Clearly Kevin Magnussen had the advantage over his German team mate having completed a full season for Haas F1 last year while Hulkenberg watched on.
Yet it is Nico Hulkenberg who has impressed in the first three events of the year out qualifying Magnussen 3-0 in qualifying. While the German has finished behind Magnussen in two of the three races to date, he has outscored his Danish team mate by six points to one following his P7 in Australia.
Magnussen’s qualifying form is of concern to Steiner with a best grid slot to date of P13 in Jeddah. This is in stark contrast to last season when by the third round in Australia, Magnussen had made the final qualifying session twice.
Magnussen “not happy”
Apparently Kevin Magnussen has unexplained issues at present which Gunther Steiner admitted to the Mirror.
“Kevin is not in a happy place at the moment, being behind Nico,”
“He is happy for the team and he knows the car is there for him to be able to do it – he just needs to get it done.”
Of course Magnussen’s two year contract expires at the end of this year.
“In the end it is all down to performance but, at the moment, I’m pretty relaxed about it,” Steiner insisted.
“I want to at least give another five races to see where we are and then start to think about it.”
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Haas team line up earl announcement
The Haas boss made it clear last season he would like to have recruited Daniel Ricciardo following his sacking by McLaren.
Steiner revealed in Melbourne he intends to “at some point” have a conversation with Ricciardo to see if his wage demands will be reduced for 2024.
Having suffered the Schumacher saga last season where the decision on driver line up was left until the last race of the year, Steiner wants to avoid repeating the process.
“Hopefully this year we can confirm what we are doing [next year with drivers] before the summer break because (a delay is) not nice from my point of view.”
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When you've accomplished everything on four wheels… sometimes it's time to give two a try 🤷♂️
Even if @alo_oficial wasn't happy how it happened 😠#AzerbaijanGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/cMipsPulpd
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