A year ago, Haas F1 Team was building toward its inaugural Formula One season, racing to finish its first car as the clock counted down toward preseason testing at .
The team succeeded, firing up its Ferrari engine and peeling out of its garage at 10 a.m. local time on the first day of testing around the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn circuit.
One year later, history repeats itself.
As Haas F1 Team readies for its sophomore season in the FIA Formula One World Championship, it does so under a significantly new set of regulations that will make this year’s racecar a drastic departure from the version the team built in 2016.
The 2017 car features an advanced aerodynamic package that will create a higher level of downforce via a longer nose, wider front wing, larger barge boards, the sidepods being pushed out, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width. Augmenting these changes are wider tires from Pirelli, by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear.
After building a new car from scratch in 2016, Haas F1 Team is doing the same in 2017. But unlike in 2016, the team’s personnel are already assembled and, more importantly, have a year of experience working together. And its infrastructure, from the garage setup and the necessary equipment it houses to the trucks that transport said equipment from the team’s European base in Banbury, England, has been in place for more than a year. The only new item that needs to be put together is the car.
The car, however, is not the only new element at Haas F1 Team. Kevin Magnussen forms the other half of Haas’ driver lineup, with the 24-year-old joining Romain Grosjean after spending 2016 at Renault Sport. Magnussen comes to Haas F1 Team with 40 Formula One starts and a best finish of second, earned in his debut race at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Grosjean scored all 29 of Haas F1 Team’s points in 2016, allowing the organization to finish an impressive eighth in the constructor standings. With Magnussen on board, the team has set its sights on modestly moving up in the constructor ranks.
“I think with the knowledge we have, we should actually perform a little bit better this year,” said Gene Haas, founder and chairman, Haas F1 Team. “If we can do a little bit better because our business model in Formula One allows us to operate more efficiently, we might be able to move up a position or two.”
Moving up a position or two will take some heavy lifting, as Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsports where the best in engineering and design compete. To accomplish Haas’ goal and to wheel these new-generation cars that some speculate will drop lap times by as much as five seconds, Grosjean and Magnussen have done plenty of heavy lifting this offseason to prepare for the effects these increased speeds will have on their bodies.
Both drivers adjusted their training regimens to include more weight lifting, as the added strength will be needed to muscle their cars on tracks where a handful of corners will be taken flat out thanks to the heightened levels of downforce. An example of this will be seen at Barcelona’s turn three, where some estimates have drivers taking the corner 30 kph (19 mph) faster than in 2016. The downforce available on the 2017 cars means engines that once ran at full throttle for 50 percent of a lap at Barcelona could increase to 70 percent.
The home of the Spanish Grand Prix provides a test for both man and machine, and after passing its first test a year ago at Barcelona, it is back to the future for Haas F1 Team.