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Rivals set to raise Haas concerns at Strategy Group meeting

NEWS STORY
28/03/2018

If pre-season testing suggested that Haas was about to make a major step forward, last weekend's performance in Melbourne confirmed it.

While the American outfit failed to get either car to the finish, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean both suffering wheelnut issues during their pit stops which subsequently led to their retirement, in qualifying the pair were best of the rest, leading the midfield as they locked-out the third row of the grid, albeit over a second off (fifth-placed) Daniel Ricciardo’s pace.

Though Ferrari supplies numerous components to the American team, not least its engine and gearbox, the steering, cockpit instrumentation and front suspension is also supplied by the Italian manufacturer which has also allowed (chassis builder) Dallara access to its windtunnel.

As the American team begins its third season in the sport, it is about to discover the harsh reality of F1, that while your rivals will gladly welcome you to the fold, should you be perceived as a threat, especially with the help of one of the grandee teams, there will be trouble.

While Red Bull's Christian Horner calls for a restriction on special qualifying engine modes, as used to great effect by Lewis Hamilton on Saturday, his contemporaries at McLaren and Force India are calling for an investigation into the relationship between Haas and Ferrari. They are of the opinion that other than the parts being supplied by the Italian manufacturer, vital data and even personnel are being made available to the American outfit.

I don't know how they do it, it's magic," said Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer, who will raise the matter at next month's meeting of the Strategy Group.

"I don't know how it can be right that someone who's been in the sport for a couple of years with no resources could produce a car like this," he added, "does it happen by magic? If it does, I want the wand.

"All the aerodynamic surfaces have to be your own," he continued "If they're not, I don't know how you can tell unless you start investigating. Scrutineering only tells you that it fits within the boxes of the regulations.

"Is it yours or somebody else's? That's the real question. And I don't know the answer to that. Maybe it is their own, it's just suspect, how can you gain that knowledge without history and the right tools and people?"

"I don't have any evidence" Zak Brown told Motorsport.com, his driver, Fernando Alonso having described the Haas as a 2017 "Ferrari replica" at the weekend.

"We all know they have a very close alliance with Ferrari," he added, "I think we just need to make sure it's not too close. There could be some influence, there's certainly some parts of the car that look very similar to last year's car. But that's for the engineers and the FIA to look at more closely."

Charlie Whiting is adamant that he has no concern, the FIA's race director saying at the weekend: "We know exactly what's going on between Haas and Ferrari, which is completely legal.

"Last year we had one team expressing some concerns," he admitted, but we have not seen anything that concerns us at the moment."

At Haas, speaking at the weekend, team boss Guenther Steiner remained defiant insisting that his team is doing nothing wrong.

"They've got their own opinion," he said. "They don't have all the information, and making statements like this without the relevant information is a little bit of a case of before you speak, you should know what you talk about. They can have their opinion, everybody's free to have one. And I've got my opinion."

They see ghosts," he subsequently told BBC Sport. "They say: 'The car looks very similar to a Ferrari from last year.' So should we have copied their car, which is behind us, or should we go with a car that goes pretty quick? Give me an answer to that.

"We have got the same wheelbase as Ferrari," he added. "We have to because we have the same suspension... why would we do it different? It's logic. It cannot be last year's Ferrari because it has the same wheelbase as this year's Ferrari. If they have got a problem with that, I show them the way to the FIA. They can file a protest."

Indeed, the Italian suggests those complaining have their own agenda.

"If you have to justify your incompetence, attack is the best defence," he said. "If somebody has double the amount of money and is behind us, whoever owns the team should be asking, 'what are we doing here?' It's competition. Maybe next year we are last. When you speak, you need to have an argument you can back up, not just assumptions."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Kent, 31/03/2018 9:22

"Quelle surprise : Christian Horner bleating again."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by TedS, 29/03/2018 11:43

"First of all who in the mid field doesn't study closely and copy bits and pieces of winning cars? Being similar isn't enough to call cheating.

Secondly, they are really just mad that they have been made the fools by this upstart team who refuses to go the traditional route which has new teams failing much more often than not.

The fact of the matter is this. To win championships you have to be the innovator and get it right. To be the best in the mid-field you have to imitate the innovators. Some concepts from last years Ferrari (Side pods for example) have been copied by other teams. Bits off the Merc have likewise been copied. People also copy Red Bull.

In this instance McLaren and Force India simply didn't copy well enough. In McLaren's case I guess it was quite a slap to find out that they may not have the very best chassis after all. Yes that boat anchor of a honda lump held them back but now they are just a top mid-field team. Force India.. well.. they have their own issues."

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3. Posted by imejl99, 29/03/2018 7:50

"I was expecting politics to emerge later in the season, this is quite early. Not that I`m surprised at all, but come on, at least let few races go before stuff hits the fan."

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4. Posted by C5, 29/03/2018 6:43

"No worries. In five races they'll probably start lacking behind on development again and the whole point is moot. Unless they don't, in which case the complainers are probably right :-)
"

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5. Posted by Your Mom's Best Friend, 29/03/2018 2:11

"@Canuck

Throwing rocks in glass houses indeed. Anybody seen the Mclaren Tech Centre ? Or their mobile "hospitality ??

Literally laughing my rear off over here.

And speaking of rears, DOUBLY IRONIC that the major complainers are Mclaren AND Force India. Doesn't Force India buy the whole rear of "their" car from Mclaren ??? They've had that set-up going for years, long before Haas came on the scene...

How do these morons look at themselves in the mirror each morning ? And why doesn't any journalist ever call out these idiots on the bald face hypocrisies ?"

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6. Posted by Oldbuzzard, 28/03/2018 22:01

"As a Yank, I love seeing the "American" team doing well. As a long time F1 observer and employee of a major company involved in the sport, I have to say that calling Haas an "American" team is a stretch. As noted above, the engine/gear box (may we also assume rear suspension then), front suspension and various other bits all from Ferrari;then chassis and aerodynamics from Dallara with Ferrari windtunnel usage. Are we to believe that NO Ferrari employee has anything to input regarding the windtunnel and aero design? Get real. Then you have a German team leader and two non American drivers. Haas does business all over the world and no doubt pays its bills in the UK and Italy with local currency to avoid exchange rate anomalies. Is Haas then an American F1 team? And why should it make any difference anyway? The rule of each team required to produce its own design and all pieces was put in the Concorde Agreement by force from the top teams who have always had the money to hire the best designers and engineers. For those more mature readers who remember F1 racing in the 60's and 70's, teams used to buy chassis from other teams. How many team owners bought Lotus chassis? What engines were used? Mostly Cosworth V-8s with exceptions for Ferrari, BRM for awhile and some others. How was the racing? Most of us think it was far superior to today's over organized, over costly, over controlled, follow the leader, computerized joke. And people complain that a multi billion dollar company like Mercedes wins all the races (well unless their computer ****s up). What on Earth did you expect? F1 has become a sport of designing and engineering, not driving and racing. And the fans are fleeing by the thousands. And what has Liberty done to try and fix it? Put the fox, Brawn, directly into the hen house. What on Earth do they expect?"

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7. Posted by Ro, 28/03/2018 21:58

"Haas has done well, nothing illegal in what he has done. Its results that count. F1 in its infancy was a decent chassis and a DFV....then down to the size of the driver's balls. It was RACING, not "follow the leader cos I cant get past him""

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8. Posted by stackvideo, 28/03/2018 21:26

"Paint all the cars red and you'll struggle to see the difference"

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9. Posted by ryanhellyer, 28/03/2018 16:29

"These teams need to shut up or provide some evidence. Of course the car looks like the Ferrari because it has most of it's components. When you have a bunch of components from a particular team, and you are looking around at bits of cars to copy, you are of course going to copy the bits from the team your parts come from, since you know they'll work together well.

Instead of complaining, they should hook up a similar deal. We need more teams like Haas, not less.

Unless of course it can be found that they're cheating, but I doubt that will happen."

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10. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 28/03/2018 15:46

"Haas doing a better job, they must be cheating, thats F1 logic for you."

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11. Posted by Canuck, 28/03/2018 14:42

"This is a funny criticism of Haas. That they maybe copying some design from Ferrari? Why do all the teams take photos of the opponents cars? I don't think it is for the bedroom walls. Why do they all try to cover their cars when being hoisted? All teams analyze to the nth degree the competition to see what advantage they found or loop hole in the rules. Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones."

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