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Haas: It feels like we're racing in Formula 1.5

NEWS STORY
20/10/2018

Whether it is Renault or Haas that finishes 'best of the rest' this season, the fact is that making that next step - in joining the best - is almost an impossible dream.

Despite being the driving force behind the introduction of the hybrid formula, Renault has not made the best job of it, and after just a couple of seasons back as a constructor is already complaining about costs and warning that a manufacturer will leave the sport unless spending is addressed.

Though it continues to tinker with various aspects of the sport, F1's powers-that-be have yet to address the issue of levelling the field by means of a budget cap, a fight that will prove far harder than anything the likes of Hamilton, Vettel or Verstappen are likely to endure.

Such is the gap between the leading three teams and the rest that, speaking to reporters in Austin, Haas owner, Gene Haas, referred to the 'best of the rest' battle as a separate championship, Formula 1.5.

"I kind of feel like we're not really racing in Formula 1, we're racing in Formula 1.5," he said, when asked about the prospect of finishing fourth after just three season, "so if we were to finish fourth then that would be a win in our series."

Asked to expand on his comment, he said: "When I watch some of the races and I see how fast the top three teams just blow by us on the racetrack, you're just somewhat aghast: wow, how do you we miss that?

"I don't know how those cars are so much faster but if I talk to Ayao (Komatsu – the team's chief race engineer) and he'll tell you 'you've got a couple of tenths on your tyres, you've got a couple of tenths on your aero, your chassis is off a couple of tenths and there's your second or two'.

"I know that we've put a huge effort into trying to address all those parameters but I just don't see how we're ever going to make up a second and a half, two seconds off of these guys. They are just so much faster than we are and it's evident in the race.

"Will a budget cap help? Probably if it reduces the size of their R&D department," he added. "I guess for every person we have they have five people. Personally, I would think that five people would make it more confusing but it does seem to work.

"If there's anything that can reduce that gap between the technology they have and what we don't have, that would probably be very helpful. How you go about doing that without the bigger teams somehow have workarounds I don't know. There's something wrong that… I don't think we can ever make up that gap."

"I would tend to echo what Gene has said," said Claire Williams, who, though ecstatic earlier in the year when the budget cap appeared to be progressing, subsequently admitted to feeling down as talks stalled, "that there's unfortunately no way that teams like mine, anyway, that are operating on a budget of around 120m could even consider competing to win races or World Championships against the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, that are spend at least two if not three or four times the budget that we are.

"For me, that's not a level playing field and for me, at any rate, that's not how competitive sport should be. It shouldn't be about the money that you have, it should be about the talent but talent only takes you so far when teams are outspending you three-to-one.

"So I am very much looking to the budget cap coming in but I also believe that there's a whole lot of other work that we need to do in order to make sure that this sport has a sustainable future and one that probably matches the DNA that this sport has grown up with over the past fifty years, that we tend to be veering from at the moment, in my opinion."

"I pretty much echo the same thoughts," said Zak Brown, like Williams, heading a team that once was at the forefront but is no seemingly in free-fall. "I don't think there's a silver bullet in anything but I do think the budget cap can play a significant role in balancing the playing field.

"You also need to do that by having the right regulations moving forward which is something that we're all very active on but if you do look at the sports, most of them have some sort of budget cap, salary cap and probably one of the most successful being the NFL where everyone's pretty much on a level playing field and that's where you see the upsets and the surprise champions and I think that would be healthy for the sport.

"I still think, at the end of the day, the best teams will rise to the top but it would be good to have some more unpredictability in the sport and have a chance to get back on the top step of the podium."

"I think from the financial point of view, of course reducing the cost is always more than welcome," agreed Maurizio Arrivabene. "It's not related to the what, it's related to the how.

"If reducing costs means equalisation it's not for us," he warned. "Standardisation is one thing, equalisation is another so equalisation is not in the DNA of car manufacturers."

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1. Posted by Esteban, 22/10/2018 4:06

"He meant "Formula 0.5", maybe that's the problem?"

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2. Posted by Oldbuzzard, 20/10/2018 21:36

"When I heard the news of Haas entering F1 and his plans, I thought, and I'm sure commented somewhere, that he seems to have done some research of the sport and his move to use Ferrari as a supplier of engines and other parts was a good step. Then I warned that what he has started with is only that, a start. To compete at the top level a team needs the top level of everything: drivers, engines, aerodynamicists, designers, engineers, computer wizards, electronics geniuses, etc, and, most of all, MONEY. As for engines, one of the most important elements of being the best, renting engines from a top team, i.e., Ferrari, does not mean you are using the same engine as Ferrari and if Gene thinks he is getting the identical engines he is more naive than I thought. Having Dallara build your chassis is so far away from the top of the F1 heap Haas might as well be racing in F2. Claire Williams claims she runs on 120M budget. Mercedes is at least at the 400M level and my guess is it's more like 600M. The answer to saving F1 is simple and many voice it every day. ENGINE RULES! The teams must not be allowed to dictate the engine rules, especially when a few teams make their own engines. The FIA must set the rules and it must be the competition element of FIA not the president who writes the rule book. I respect Jean Todt immensely,but he has become too much the politician, influenced by manufacturers and governments. My hope is for the engine rules to allow the entrance of independent engine builders to compete in F1. We don't have to lose Mercedes and Ferrari as long as they build their engines to the same rules as everyone else. If they decide to leave the sport we will soon find out if the popularity of F1 is due to the excitement of the races or builders of the engines. "

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3. Posted by hussainahm, 20/10/2018 19:24

"Luckily we can follow the F1.5 championship on Instagram formula1point5"

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4. Posted by 4-Wheel Drifter, 20/10/2018 16:11

"Well, what Gene Haas & Claire Williams say about money in the sport is obviously true. But that's ALWAYS true in racing because money buys you talent and talent gets you speed. What makes F1 uncompetitive, though, isn't money, it's regulations. Renault, Ferrari, Honda and Mercedes are united in their opposition to allowing engine regulations that will be open to small engine makers because there's a real possiblity such experimenting might cost them sales. Honda, Mercedes and Renault are selling automobiles and using F1 for marketing. Why do you suppose Toyota opted out? Ane why, do you think, Renault is complaining? If, for example, inventive engineers were allowed to really tinker with chassiss and engines; if a team were allowed to experiment with tyres, the racing would be more competitive. But the rule book for F1 is worse than American tax law --and for the same reason: to protect big money from innovative hot-rodders. The future of F1 is guaranteed: it will dwindle and one of these days some people will invent another series."

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