2017 review: Solid Haas scores more points

2017 review: Solid Haas scores more points

13 December 2017 – GPUpdate.net continues its end-of-season review with Haas, which stabilised as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen scored points, improving on its 2016 tally, despite failing to gain a position.

Haas: 6/10
Championship: 8th
WCC points: 47
Best race: 6th (1 x GRO)
Best qualifying: 6th (1 x GRO)
Fastest laps: 0
Qualifying duel: GRO 12 - 8 MAG


Haas burst onto the scene in 2016, but performances faded thereafter, its classification owing much to Romain Grosjean's dazzling early display. By contrast, 2017 was a more rounded affair, with double the points finishes, even if the team was still one of the sport's inconsistent performers. Haas' VF-17 operated in a narrow window, and if circumstances were suitable (Australia, Austria) it was the fourth-quickest package. However, at other points, it slumped towards the back, keeping Sauber for company. Perennial brake struggles, particularly for Grosjean, dominated much of the first half of the year, while correctly operating Pirelli's notoriously sensitive tyres was also a season-long gripe. When it didn't work, it really didn't work. Nevertheless, Haas improved operationally, had two drivers scoring, and coped with regulatory overhaul in only its second year, despite an early switch of resources to 2018, which accentuated some mid-season developmental setbacks. That it arrived at the final race still in with a shot at sixth overall makes 2017 an encouraging campaign.

Romain Grosjean: 6.5/10
Championship: 13th
WDC points: 28
Best R result: 6th (1x)
Best Q result: 6th (1x)


The highs of early 2016 have yet to be repeated, but they were an aberration for Haas, as Grosjean built on his first year at the squad with a solid second season. His sensitivity under braking remained a key talking point, and partly explained big swings in performance. He was mighty in Australia, but completely nowhere in Azerbaijan, where old brake material was used. Nonetheless, Grosjean typically performed strongly when Haas peaked and was the faster driver across one-lap, though the gap came down during the second half of the season. He made Q3 on five occasions, though that he failed to achieve the feat after the summer break reflected Haas' slight regression as the year wore on. There were still a few mishaps – Monza's qualifying crash, Brazil's lap-one exit – and there remained the occasional radio outburst! But this was a more complete performance than in Haas' debut campaign, as both driver and team benefited from greater maturity and the obvious advantage of an improved working relationship.

High point: Fine recovery from mid-grid to seventh in Belgium
Low point: Abject display around Baku's streets


Kevin Magnussen: 6.5/10
Championship: 14th
WDC points: 19
Best R result: 7th (1x)
Best Q result: 11th (1x)


Magnussen has had such a rollercoaster career – McLaren, a year out, Renault, now Haas – that it is easy to forget he is only 25. Magnussen spoke warmly of finding a "family" at Haas, without "bullshit", a less-than-guarded dig at the political machinations he loathed at his previous, larger squads. Magnussen was more of a Sunday driver than Saturday – scoring points five times but qualifying higher than 13th just once (11th in Spain). He attributed this to oversteer on corner entry, more pronounced on low fuel and on softer tyres than on higher fuel and harder tyres – hence the greater confidence in race trim. As a result, Magnussen swayed towards setting up his VF-17 for the race, and frequently adopted a feisty attitude as he sought to recover, occasionally attracting the ire of his contemporaries. Magnussen was brilliant in Japan and Mexico, and unlucky to miss out in Austria, but with overtaking harder in 2017, the Dane was too often reliant on lap-one charges and race recoveries.

High point: Stellar drive to eighth in Mexico
Low point: Difficult start in Australia


Statistics
Average qualifying gap: 0.165s (in Grosjean's favour)*
Biggest qualifying gap: 1.428s to Grosjean in Australia
Smallest qualifying gap: 0.010s to Grosjean in Hungary
Average qualifying result: Grosjean 13.85, Magnussen 15.35
*Three rounds excluded due to external factors/incidents


Retirements:
Grosjean 3
Magnussen 5


Race head-to-head: Grosjean 7 – 7 Magnussen


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