Haas went into the first Grand Prix of the season looking like the best team in the midfield. And boy did they start the race well, proving they were ready to battle with the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
Kevin Magnussen with a fantastic start going around the outside of Max Verstappen and more importantly staying ahead, while the Dutchman pushed so hard he spun going into the first corner on lap 10 allowing his team mate Daniel Ricciardo through and the Haas of Romain Grosjean – damaging his own car’s floor in the process.
But what was turning into a sensational race for the American team went sour as the first pitstop window came round it fell apart, literally. A front left wheel gun failure resulted in both cars leaving the pit with the wheel not fully on. Forcing both cars to stop on track bringing out the virtual safety car which allowed Sebastian Vettel to leap frog the then leading Lewis Hamilton.
The gunman on the wheel in question threw his hands up calling for the cars not to be released but it was too late. Haas’ race was over. The camera showed the mechanics in the garage as the cars stopped- with the man responsible simply leaving as the realisation of what had happen and his responsibility became too much.
A touching gesture on returning to the pit came from Grosjean who went to the mechanic to comfort him. Magnussen also took to Instagram to show his support to the team. Both drivers clearly understanding that in racing anything can happen and it should not be held against anyone involved. Although the mechanic may feel horrid it is great sportsmanship from the Haas drivers.
But what does this mean for the future?
Haas have clearly shown the grid that in just their third year they mean business. After a somewhat no show from Force India – who last year were arguably the best midfield team – and Renault benefiting from the Haas retirements the Ferrari powered machine has proved it is capable of driving away from the midfield.
Other than Brawn GP in 2009 never has a “new” team coming into F1 become such a force so quickly. Obviously this can be argued as teams may inherit the previous team’s car, development etc. But with the first race for Haas in 2014 resulting in a 6th position for Grosjean, this made them the first team to score points on their debut since Toyota Racing in 2002.
This strong start to the 2018 chapter of Haas will lead to great things. I can see nothing but top 10 finishes all season and with their qualifying performance at Albert Park putting both cars so far up on the grid I believe there will be multiple podiums for both drivers.
With a bit of luck, such as the start of last years Singapore GP with three of the top six drivers colliding, Haas can get their first victory. No. They will get a victory. Although we are yet to see a Haas on the podium we will see them spraying the champagne this year for sure.
Haas are now a staple on the F1 grid and this performance, allbeit not the end result, will have other teams taking note.
As we look to Bahrain in two weeks Haas will be pushing the Red Bulls and are ready to cause an upset. Just maybe we will have a fourth team joining the top three teams.