Haas has translated seven top-10 grid positions to just three points in 2022, adding just five points to its tally since Kevin Magnussen’s famous fifth-place finish in Formula 1’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix .
While Mick Schumacher’s struggles contributed to this poor record, overall the team underperformed and slipped to ninth place in the constructors’ championship after a fifth straight race without a point at the Canadian GP.
Competitive gravity still meant retaining the third place they held after Bahrain was going to be a near impossible task, but it was a dramatic fall nonetheless.
Although Haas only had the eighth fastest car on the “supertimes” average – judging by his fastest single lap each weekend as a percentage of fastest – he was a practical performer in the middle ground.
Moreover, his performance figure is dragged down by a dreadful qualifying session in Azerbaijan where neither driver kept pace with the car through a combination of bad laps and the red flag interruption and both were eliminated in Q1.
It was only in Australia (traditionally a track where Haas has been fast), where its starting setup was off the mark and the team never unleashed a serious pace, that the car didn’t look like a points threat at any point in the weekend.
Magnussen got the most out of the car in the early races, following fifth in Bahrain and ninth in Saudi Arabia and Imola.
His result at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix follows a sensational fourth place in qualifying in the rain after surviving a stoppage that caused a red flag in Q3.
But the way he backed up in both the sprint and the Grand Prix itself showed that the car’s actual pace was only enough for a minor points finish.
Things have been more disappointing since. In Miami, Magnussen was knocked out in Q1 partly due to radio failure, but battled for points before an ill-timed pit stop and then a late collision with Stroll ruined his race.
In Spain, his misguided attempt to pass Hamilton on the outside of Turn 4 on the first lap ended in a gravel trip.
Putting his car on the outside of Hamilton approaching Turn 3 on lap one in Canada after qualifying a superb fifth was also ill-advised, even though he was unlucky for damage to the front wing and then being forced into the pits by the black-and-orange flag.
In Monaco, Haas showed potential pace in Q3, but a messy Q2 lap saw him start 13th. A good strategy, going straight from rains to slicks, would have earned at least one point if not for a Ferrari engine problem. It was a similar story in Baku, where Magnussen was fast in the race.
The picture could have been very different for Magnussen had it not been for those two failures, the misjudgments in Spain and Montreal and his troubles in Miami. That equates to a potential five finishing points lost, enough at least to put Haas clear of Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings. It’s also confirmation of Haas’ potential to score points in eight of the nine races.
Schumacher’s struggles have been well documented. He might have scored in Miami had it not been for his late collision with mentor Sebastian Vettel, when he was seventh in Canada when a Ferrari power unit problem sidelined him. Bad luck also struck in Bahrain, where he finished 11th after being tipped in a spin by Esteban Ocon early on.
In Saudi Arabia Schumacher crashed badly in qualifying and couldn’t race, then after leading a decent race in Australia to 13th in an uncompetitive car he spun on the first lap of the race at Imola and took 17th place – after showing promise by finishing 10th in the sprint.
In Spain, Schumacher raced sixth after a superb first lap before being pushed back, eventually finishing 12th on a two-stop strategy that saw him fade in the final stint. But his pace was nothing special there. It was a similar story in Monaco before his big impact separated the car from the gearbox in Monaco.
His safe run to 14th in Baku was the kind of quiet weekend he needed given the mounting pressure, but he was never a points threat, which made the doubly cruel abandonment in Canada.
So even with Schumacher’s struggles, he could have easily contributed a few points to the cause, so car and boost Haas’ tally.
Even with a conservative estimate, Haas should have at least 15 more points – enough to elevate him to seventh in the standings above AlphaTauri.
So what does the season tell us so far about Haas? The car is capable of being quick, although it is not the dry midfield leader that Bahrain’s result might have suggested.
But Schumacher’s weakness, Ferrari’s reliability issues and the occasional strategy error held him back. The same goes for Magnussen’s combativeness, although there are times when his aggression pays off, meaning misjudgments like Spain and Canada are the price paid for that potential advantage.
Haas has a major upgrade, its only one of the season, scheduled for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Given that the Haas VF-22 package remained a regular points threat for most of the first nine weekends, it’s clear that it has a solid foundation to build on. It’s also a fairly complete car in terms of performance with a good level of downforce for a midfield machine.
Provided it works as hoped, and is a shrewd test of its still relatively new aero team led by technical director Simone Resta, then Haas will have a much better chance of scoring points.
But will he take them or continue wasting them? It’s a question that hasn’t always been answered positively during the Haas team’s relatively short, but peak, time in F1.