Haas: One second per lap gain needed to be competitive
Haas founder Gene Haas says his eponymous outfit needs to improve by a second per lap in order to emerge as a fully competitive force in Formula 1.
Haas joined Formula 1 in 2016 and has established itself in the midfield group, finishing eighth in both seasons, regularly challenging for points, and occasionally making it through to Q3.
Haas’ affiliation with Ferrari, using a portion of its components, including power units, means the Italian marque acts as a benchmark, a factor which its American owner says acts as an incentive.
“It looks like everyone is going to be better,” Haas said, looking ahead to 2018.
“We identified our weak spots and Guenther [Steiner, Team Principal] and I had a good heart-to-heart talk on that one in Mexico City about what direction we were going to take and how we were going to improve.
“It’s no secret we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline.
“We need to be within a half-second of the Ferraris in order for us to be competitive. We weren’t last year. I would say we were a second to a second-and-a-half slower than the Ferraris.
“Overall, we were maybe two seconds off the pole qualifiers, so we need to knock a second off that if we really want to be competitive.”
Revised Formula 1 regulations for the upcoming campaign mean that fewer power unit components will be permitted, despite the expanded nature of the calendar, but Haas downplayed suggestions this could impact reliability.
“I think it’s like anything else – the more seasons you have with an engine package, the more reliable it’s going to become,” he said.
“I have no doubts they [Ferrari] can do the season with three engines.
“Plus, there’s not going to be this tremendous need for upgrades because the engine horsepower has somewhat plateaued.
“They are getting about as much performance out of the current dimensional package as you can. I don’t think Mercedes or Renault is going to be that much farther ahead or behind Ferrari.
“I think they are all within a half-a-percent of one other. I think from a reliability standpoint, the Ferraris are excellent.”