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Formula 1

Haas’s 2022 F1 car has already improved its prospects

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
5 min read

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Is this the car that will bring Haas out of the Formula 1 wilderness? Not entirely. Primarily because the real VF-22 is likely to be more developed than these initial renders.

However, this is still the first real look at the 2022 generation we’ve seen, not just a new livery slapped on last year’s F1 show car. And with that comes the first step into what Haas needs to be a much-improved season.

There is a very different atmosphere around the team compared to 12 months ago, when Haas launched a barely modified version of its 2020 car and was resigned to a season battling at the back with no development and two rookie drivers.

“Last year going to the test…I don’t want to speak too much about last year, it was like you knew what to expect,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner tells The Race.

“You knew where you were, we also had two rookie drivers. You always try to do your best. But there is a limitation because the car was what it was and the drivers were rookies.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship United States Grand Prix Practice Day Austin, Usa

While Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin and the race team had to battle with what they had, Haas devoted all its development capacity last year to designing this car for the all-new technical regulations.

This is the first Haas created by its all-new design office in Maranello, and budget and production capacity permitting the team will aim for consistent updates through the season.

To achieve that, the team has been “learning how to run as lean as possible”, says technical director Simone Resta.

“We try to be as lean as possible with the number of parts, try to preserve as much of the budget as possible,” he says. “So that’s the idea.

“We’ll see how the car is working, we’ll see what we need to eventually correct. And we try to aggressively upgrade it during the season with the capacity we’ve got left to do it.”

This is a world apart from the VF-21, which was developed from the VF-20 only in the way required by the tweaked floor regulations then stayed in that form for the rest of the season.

Feb 04 : Haas reveals first 2022 F1 car

There’s a lot more to learn and evolve about the 2022 car, which makes it much more complex – but that’s an experience the team is relishing after last season.

“This year, with having a new car, there are more problems,” says Steiner. “But it’s good to have these problems.

“Because you can move forward again, whatever you do will be positive for the whole year.

“You’re not locked in like you were last year. We always tried to get the best but you’re in a box. You cannot get out.

“We had to bite the bullet to make sure that we stay here. And now we have to come up again” :: Guenther Steiner

“This year, whatever happens, we need to be good – if we get boxed in – to get out of it because we have got the opportunity. So it’s a lot more exciting.

“There’s a lot more looking forward to it. There’s still a lot of work going on to make it happen but in the end you know you’re going into something which will give you some satisfaction.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Australian Grand Prix Race Day Melbourne, Australia

The benchmark for satisfaction is Haas’s 2018 form, when it often had the third- or fourth-fastest car and finished fifth in the championship. That seems a long way from its difficult, point-less 2021 – the first non-score in its short F1 history.

There are no lofty public expectations from Haas this time around. Steiner says that even though it should automatically be a better year than 2021, it would be wrong for the team to get carried away and just assume that 2022 will be “all good – we have to make it good”.

And so despite the greater excitement, there is still a sense of caution because the last two seasons have been too bad for Haas to feel anything else.

Still, Steiner doesn’t see 2022 as a year in which Haas must “prove that you can do it, because we did it already” in 2018. “Now we have to show that we can come back,” he says.

If it can, then Haas will go a long way to winning over its eponymous team owner. Gene Haas has seemed increasingly disenchanted with F1, where spending massive amounts of money was resulting in a backwards slide.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sochi, Russia

The 2020/2021 slump obviously exaggerated that, which is part of what makes 2022 such a big year for the team.

“It’s important to him like it is to everybody else,” says Steiner. “Success is always the biggest motivator to anything.

“If we can come back to have some kind of success that for sure makes him happier than he is now. Because nobody’s happy with the result we had last year.

“But we had to bite the bullet to make sure that we stay here. And now we have to come up again.

“For sure it’s important this year that we show progress. We need to show progress.”

The launch of the VF-22 is the first step towards that.

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