Haas only entered the world of Formula 1 in 2016, but unlike other teams that I have started from scratch in recent times, they’ve made their mark on the sport already.
When, in 2016, American millionaire and NASCAR team owner Gene Haas decided to give F1 a go, little was expected of his entry. They had precious little in the way of resources compared to their rivals and the past three brand new teams had only lasted a few years, enjoying next to no success in that time.
However, it quickly became clear that they weren’t going to suffer the same fate, with Romain Grosjean finishing in P6 in the first race of the year. The Frenchman then followed that up by taking P5 in Bahrain and P8 in Russia.
A lack of development meant he was only able to score six more points that season while team-mate Esteban Gutierrez couldn’t score any, but finishing above two teams in the standings, it was still a strong debut campaign for Haas nonetheless.
They were ruffling feathers with their strong performances too, with many rivals complaining about the close arrangement they had with Ferrari, which saw them take parts from the Italian team to keep costs down.
Kevin Magnussen replaced Gutierrez in 2017, with the fact that he chose to leave works team Renault for them showing that they were going places.
The Dane proved to be a big improvement on the Mexican, scoring 19 points, making their total tally 18 higher than it had been in 2016. They remained P8 in the standings, but were much closer to those ahead.
They made a mixed start to the next season, having excellent pace in the opening round in Australia, qualifying in P6 and P7 and running in P4 and P5 early on in the race, but both drivers were then forced to retire due to errors made by the pit-crew.
That was the start of a disappointing first eight rounds for the team. They had one of the quickest cars in the midfield, shown by the fact that Magnussen picked up three top-six finishes, but couldn’t fully capitalise on it with Grosjean making multiple mistakes and failing to score a single point.
Happily, he and his colleagues got redemption at the eighth race, the Austrian Grand Prix. There, he crossed the line in P4 with Magnussen close behind in P5, giving them a huge haul of points and what remains the team’s best ever result.
Both drivers performed well for the majority of the remaining races, securing P5 in the Constructors’ Championship. Most had expected Haas to be regularly fighting at the back of the pack when they joined in 2016, but they were now at the top of the midfield.
The 2019 campaign got off to a decent start with Magnussen finishing P6, but things quickly went downhill. As they developed their car, they had more and more issues getting heat into the tyres, and it affected their pace hugely, making them a backmarker.
Eventually, they switched back to the specification they started the season with, but while it improved things slightly, it was too little too late. They finished second bottom of the standings with just 28 points to their name, their lowest amount since joining the grid.
Grosjean and Magnussen had come together multiple times over the course of the season, infuriating team principal Guenther Steiner and putting their futures in doubt, but given how well they’d done for the team before 2019, the Italian ultimately opted to keep both for 2020.
By the end of that year though, both were probably wishing he hadn’t. The team took another step backwards and ended up having one of the slowest cars on the grid, only scoring three points all season to stay P9 in the championship, ahead of only Williams.
The lowest point of the year, and perhaps the highest, came at the third to last round in Bahrain, where Grosjean so nearly lost his life in a horrific crash. After smashing through the barriers, he ended up trapped in his car as it caught fire and was engulfed in the flames, but somehow made his way out with only severe hand-burns.
It proved to be the last race of his F1 career with Haas electing to field an all-rookie lineup for the following year. Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary Michael, was signed, as was Nikita Mazepin with his father’s company becoming a title sponsor.
That deal gave the team a lot of money but a lot of trouble too. The Russian made the headlines for the wrong reasons throughout the year, with his conduct both on and off the track being heavily criticised.
Schumacher performed far better but, in extremely poor machinery, wasn’t able to score any points, and neither was his team-mate. Therefore, the team finished rock-bottom of the championship for the first time.
They’ll be hoping they don’t suffer the same fate again 2022 and have good reason to believe they won’t.
One of the reasons they struggled so much in 2021 was because they opted not to develop their car, instead focusing entirely on preparing their 2022 challenger. If that decision pays off, with Magnussen returning to replace Mazepin, they’ll have the drivers and the car to get back into the midfield fight.
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