Things could not be going much better for F1 newcomer Haas F1. Lead driver Romain Grosjean finished 6th in Australia and 5th in Bahrain. Grosjean is 5th in the Drivers’ World Championship standings. Think about that for a second, this is a brand new team. Brand new teams aren’t supposed to score points in their first 2 races. Let alone sit 5th in the standings, ahead of Ferrari Ace, Sebastian Vettel. Yes, it has only been 2 races but considering it is their first 2 races their results are hugely impressive. Yet the team’s success has not been met with universal praise. In fact some have criticized Haas’ approach.
Haas has bucked the trend in F1 by sourcing as many parts as is allowed from other parties. The power unit is from Ferrari, as is many other components. So much so that F1 head hancho and all around jackass Bernie Ecclestone told Autoweek that Haas is basically a Ferrari. Furthering the establishment’s ire, Dallara has built the chassis for Haas. For these reasons and more established F1 teams are speaking out against Haas. Williams, which consider’s itself a true independent seems to be the most vocal. Williams’ technical boss Pat Symonds stated his displeasure, “The status of being a constructor has been gradually eroded.” Symonds told the New York Times in Bahrain, “Some would like it completely eroded. What Haas has done is good for him, but I don’t know if that is really the way F1 should be going.”
You know what I have to say to Bernie and Pat? Suck it up. No rules are being broken, what Haas is doing is perfectly legal. Any team can follow the same model. Let us not forget what power unit resides in the back of Mr. Symonds’ Williams. It is a Mercedes, the undisputed best and most powerful power unit currently residing in F1. Furthermore, it wasn’t that long ago where car counts were a genuine concern. Teams facing financial ruin forced F1 to discuss a possible solution should car counts get to small. If a team should find a way to be competitive and do so on a smaller budget it should be welcomed. Such a model would encourage more teams, and more competitiveness. I genuinely believe Symonds is using the tired “what’s good for the sport” argument to limit his own competition. Williams has been on a good run of late, finishing 3rd in the constructors championship the past 2 seasons. Undoubtedly, a fantastic achievement for a smaller team. Having a new boy come onto the scene and threaten that right away scares him.
Haas F1’s Team Boss Gunther Steiner’s could not have said it any better. In an interview with motorsport.com, “The last three teams that started (in F1 in 2010), only one is left (Manor). Doing more of the same will not work.” He continued, “I wouldn’t say that I’m cleverer than these people, they are good people, there’s no reason to say ‘I can do this the same way because I’m so much better that I will succeed’. Sometimes you need to change the plan, and now it’s up to the other teams to do what they need to do. The regulations are the same for everybody.” The old way doesn’t seem to work for new teams. So maybe, just maybe, doing things differently is the way to go. You can be true to the established norm, do things the way they have always been done and most likely fail. Or you can do things the Haas way and you might just succeed.
Do I expect Grosjean to finish the season ahead of Vettel? No. Do I expect them to go through some rough patches? Yes. But all signs point to Haas being successful in F1. Their success has already threatened some. They have accomplished all this by using the most un-F1 model, the (oh mon dieu) NASCAR model. Where a team sources as many parts from 3rd parties as the rules allow. Haas has taken this approach to F1. They have already proven its validity and the elitists can’t handle it.