Haas F1 Team Sets Its Sights On Shanghai
The third-year Haas F1 Team heads into the third round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship this Sunday at Shanghai International Circuit intent on showcasing its speed in the Chinese Grand Prix.
Fresh off a fifth-place finish in last Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix where driver Kevin Magnussen equaled Haas F1 Team’s best result in its still young history, the American squad comes into Shanghai with points to show for the speed it has displayed since winter testing in late February and early March at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
The resulting 10 points from Magnussen’s Bahrain Grand Prix effort placed Haas F1 Team seventh in the constructor standings after two races, where it sits eight points ahead of eighth-place Sauber and only two points behind sixth-place Toro Rosso.
Magnussen and teammate Romain Grosjean have consistently placed their Haas VF-18s near the top of the midfield, even mixing it up among the sport’s Big Three of Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. In addition to Magnussen’s fifth-place drive in Bahrain, he has qualified sixth and seventh, respectively, in each of this year’s first two races. Grosjean, meanwhile, owns a seventh-place qualifying effort in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
After a double DNF (Did Not Finish) in Australia where 22 potential points went poof as Magnussen had been running fourth and Grosjean fifth before succumbing to loose wheels, Bahrain provided tangible evidence that Haas F1 Team’s speed was substantive.
If the third time truly is the charm, then the Chinese Grand Prix bodes well for Haas F1 Team. Grosjean and Magnussen rightly carry optimism and experience into China. Grosjean has six career Formula One starts at the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn circuit. Three times he has finished in the points, with his best result being a sixth-place drive in 2012. And in last year’s Chinese Grand Prix, Grosjean just missed a point-paying result, as he finished 11th. Magnussen has three starts at Shanghai, and his best came in last year’s contest when he finished eighth to score his first points as a member of Haas F1 Team.
Achieving points in China will involve continuing the pace set in Australia and Bahrain while solving the conundrum presented by Shanghai’s “snail corners” and its massive back straight. It’s a track that features plenty of yin yang characteristics where balance is key.
The snail corners both look like a snail and force drivers to take a snail’s pace around them – at least by Formula One standards. These corners, which comprise turns 1-4 and turns 11-13, are juxtaposed with the 1.4-kilometer (.869 of a mile) back straight – the longest in Formula One. There, drivers eclipse 320 kph (200 mph) before heavy braking into the turn-14 hairpin. Securing the downforce needed to maximize these vastly divergent elements, along with the other in-between aspects of the track, is akin to balancing on a razor blade.
Balance is what Haas F1 Team has seemingly found in 2018, for its third-generation race car has so far proven adept at handling the idiosyncrasies of both street courses and purpose-built tracks. Having exhibited speed but still looking to get both its drivers in the points at the end of the race, the third race of this Formula One season can be the proverbial third charm for Haas F1 Team.