The Italian Job
When Haas F1 Team debuted in the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship to become the first American Formula One team in 30 years, it did so with help from two Italian partners – Scuderia Ferrari and Dallara.
It’s a collaboration that continues as Formula One comes into the final leg of its European stretch with the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Maranello-based Ferrari provides Haas F1 Team with its power unit, gearbox and overall technical support, and famed racecar builder Dallara has Haas F1 Team’s design staff embedded in its Parma headquarters.
This unique relationship allowed Haas F1 Team to hit the ground running with drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez. The massive task of creating a Formula One team from scratch was made slightly less daunting by the more than 130 collective years of motorsports experience brought by Ferrari and Dallara.
Proof of the program’s success can be found in Haas F1 Team’s eighth-place standing in the constructor ranks, where after 13 races it is 22 points ahead of ninth-place Renault and only 17 points behind seventh-place Toro Rosso. The 28 points Haas F1 Team has earned so far this season are the most of any new team in this millennium. When Jaguar debuted in 2000 and when Toyota came on the scene in 2002, each entity managed only two point-paying finishes in their entire first seasons for a combined total of six points.
Points at Monza and in the seven races that follow are coveted by Haas F1 Team. The distance between it and Toro Rosso is surmountable if each grand prix is executed to the team’s fullest potential.
The speed is there, as Grosjean and Gutiérrez have shown. In eight straight grands prix the duo has made it to the second round of qualifying (Q2). The third and final round of qualifying (Q3) beckons as the two drivers have five 11th-place qualifying efforts between them – three by Grosjean and two by Gutiérrez. They’ve come tantalizingly close to breaking into Q3 for a top-10 qualifying effort, and the 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile), 11-turn temple of speed that is Monza could very well be a breakthrough venue.
Grosjean has made four Formula One starts at Monza with a best finish of eighth in 2013. His best qualifying effort is also eighth, earned last year. Gutiérrez has made two Formula One starts at Monza, and his first Formula One drive at the track in 2013 was perhaps his most memorable. Gutiérrez, in a Ferrari-powered Sauber, set the fastest speed in the final year of the V-8 era by hitting 341.1 kph (211.950 mph).
Gutiérrez’s entire Formula One career has been connected to Ferrari. His two years with Sauber in 2013-2014 came with Ferrari power, and he joined Scuderia Ferrari in 2015 as the team’s third driver where he helped develop the racecar for four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel and 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Räikkönen. By signing with Haas F1 Team for 2016, Gutiérrez retained his ties to the Prancing Horse.
With Ferrari providing the horsepower for Haas F1 Team, the outfit feels well-prepared for Formula One’s fastest track. The circuit’s long straights combined with teams’ low-drag configurations mean that speeds approach 360 kph (224 mph). Cornering speeds are relatively low and with the high-speed straights, tire wear is minimal, especially in comparison to last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps where tire degradation was extremely high. But while tire wear will be lower than it was at Spa, the chance of wheelspin while under acceleration is higher because of the low-downforce package Monza favors.
A favorite among Formula One fans and, especially the Tifosi, Monza provides an electric atmosphere that gives a charge to Haas F1 Team and its Italian partners.