Back To The Future In Barcelona
When preseason testing began in late February at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn circuit was the scene of many firsts for Haas F1 Team.
First car unveil. First lap. First pit stop practice. The list was long.
Now, as the first American Formula One team in 30 years returns to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 15, it gets to enjoy another first: coming to a venue with valuable, pertinent track data.
Everything is new to the newest entrant in the FIA Formula One World Championship. There is no track history. No past strategies. No previous notes.
Despite operating in this brave new world, Haas F1 Team enters the Spanish Grand Prix fifth in the constructor standings, 29 points behind fourth-place Williams and five points ahead of sixth-place Toro Rosso.
Haas F1 Team earned this position by scoring points in three of the four races run this season, starting with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, continuing in Round 2 at the Bahrain Grand Prix and rebounding in its most recent outing at the Russian Grand Prix after finishing out of the points in Round 3 at the Chinese Grand Prix. These three point-paying finishes 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.
Haas F1 Team has 17 more races to collect additional points, with Barcelona next up on the globe-trotting tour of automotive acumen. It’s an opportunity Haas F1 Team relishes, as the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya is the only venue on the 21-race Formula One calendar where its cars have turned competitive laps prior to a race weekend.
Over the course of eight days spread across two weeks in late February and early March, Haas F1 Team logged 474 laps at Barcelona in preseason testing. In the team’s final day of testing – in full sun and in comfortable temperatures – 91 laps were recorded with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez sharing driving duties. It was the organization’s highest single-day lap count of the test.
The knowledge gained from those laps will allow the Spanish Grand Prix to serve as a benchmark for Haas F1 Team. The preseason test doesn’t provide the team with any real advantage over its counterparts, as every team tested and all return with plenty of data. But it does allow Haas F1 Team to see how far it’s come in terms of development, methodology and overall cohesiveness.
As the first European race and the site of all that preseason testing, Barcelona brings a barrage of updates brought forth by teams up and down the pit lane. Haas F1 Team is no different. The new front wing it debuted in Russia continues to be massaged, joined in Spain by a new rear wing. And underneath the bodywork sits the latest Ferrari powerplant, with the prancing horse using three of its engine development tokens to create this upgrade, first used by Scuderia Ferrari at the series’ last race in Russia.
Two months ago at Barcelona, the question facing Haas F1 Team was “Are they going to show up?” After not only showing up, but walking away with enough points to place the organization ahead of six other Formula One teams, the question this time at Barcelona is “How far can you go?”
With Barcelona serving as a barometer of the team’s evolution, it’s back to the future for Haas F1 Team.