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Formula 1

Haas reckons podium a realistic target in dramatic F1 races

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

The Haas Formula 1 team believes it is realistic to target a podium finish in dramatic races if it maintains the level of competitiveness it showed in the 2022 season opener.

Haas finished last in the championship in 2021 as it opted not to develop its car at all and instead focus all design resources on the new technical regulations for 2022.

That has already paid off with Kevin Magnussen’s fifth place in last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which meant Haas scored more points in one race than it had managed in the previous 49 grands prix.

Magnussen qualified and finished as the highest non-Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes, and Haas reckons repeating that trait will put it in contention for a podium in dramatic races.

That is consistent with the fortune of F1’s leading midfield teams in recent years, with Haas and Alfa Romeo the only two not to score a podium finish over the past two seasons.

“If you’re always just behind the top teams, which I guess is the best you can hope for unless you’re in a Mercedes Ferrari or Red Bull, then you’re the first one to get that podium if stuff happens,” said Magnussen in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Bahrain Grand Prix Race Day Sakhir, Bahrain

“I don’t see us driving onto the podium on pace anytime soon. But I could kind of expect to be in the position we were in Bahrain, leading that midfield – you’d hope that we could do that more often, and keep that level.

“That’s got to be the target. And then if you’re there, then you’re the first one to receive that podium if you have that lucky day where a lot of people have problems. Which has happened before, or it’s a red flag at the right time on a track that is hard to overtake or something like that.

“That’s certainly what I’m dreaming about. I’m not expecting. I don’t think we have the pace to be driving onto the podium. But I’m dreaming about that podium.”

The Haas team is still waiting to score its first podium in F1.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Race Day Spielberg, Austria

It never managed the feat in its most competitive season, 2018, when it was a regular point scorer and finished fifth in the constructors’ championship.

“People speak about the podium, yeah – I hope we are there at the right time, at the right place,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

“I don’t know if we ever get this lucky! But if it arises, hopefully we are there.

“There was a few smaller teams in the last two years getting podiums and we didn’t expect it.

“If there is an opportunity, maybe we can take it. It would be very nice.”

Being in podium contention would be a huge leap for Magnussen’s team-mate Mick Schumacher, who has not scored a point in F1 after spending his rookie season in Haas’s undeveloped and uncompetitive VF-21.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Bahrain Grand Prix Race Day Sakhir, Bahrain

But he also believes it is a realistic top ambition: “That’s the position we want to be in. We want to be just close enough to pick up the pieces and then when things fall apart in front.

“I would not say that there’s no chance of us maybe being on a podium sometime this year.

“We have 22 races left – a lot more chance of a crazy weekend coming our way.”

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