2020 is the fifth season of Formula 1 for the Haas F1 Team, and perhaps it’s their most important if their long-term future is to be in the sport. Gene Haas has made a point that the early season results will determine the future of his outfit, but do they have it in them to turnaround their form after a mediocre season in 2019 saw them fall from fifth in the Constructors’ Championship to ninth.
Is Grosjean in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’?
Romain Grosjean has been in Formula 1 full-time since 2012 (he did make seven starts for the Renault F1 Team in 2009), but 2019 was perhaps his most difficult season of his career, even harder than his 2012 campaign that saw him banned for a race for dangerous driving. But what does he need to do to ensure he’s on the grid in 2021?
Grosjean finished in the points on only three occasions in 2019, his best result coming in the German Grand Prix when he finished seventh, but he ended eighteenth in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead only of the two Williams Racing drivers.
He cannot afford to have another poor year, but he was not helped by a VF-19 that had flaws that prevented the team from using the speed the car did have. They often qualified well but slipped back on race days as they struggled to keep the tyres in their optimum operating window.
Even if Grosjean can recapture the kind of form he showed during his first three years with Haas, there are no guarantees that it will be enough for him to stay on the grid beyond 2020. And this may not be due to his driving but the team owner pulling the plug on the project completely.
Does Magnussen Need a Strong 2020 to Prolong Formula 1 Career?
For Kevin Magnussen, his 2019 was not much better than his team-mates, with the Dane finishing in the points on only four occasions, although his points tally could only place him sixteenth in the standings. Like Grosjean, he cannot afford another season of mediocrity.
Magnussen is renowned as an aggressive driver and has the ability to put the car in places where it does not deserve to be, such as fifth place in Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix last season, but he also has a tendency to talk before he thinks, much like what he said during the painful Canadian Grand Prix last year criticising the team and saying it was his ‘worse experience’ in Formula 1.
The Dane needs the VF-20 to be good, not only on Saturdays but also on Sundays, so he can show what he is capable of. The troublesome VF-19 prevented him from doing that and it often led to a slide down the field. If the VF-20 doesn’t allow him to show his true potential, then his Formula 1 career may come to a premature end.
Are Haas already in Trouble with their VF-20?
Throughout pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Haas team never threatened the top of the timing screens, and ultimately their fastest laps were well outside the top ten. But that’s just testing.
But clues about just where they are, are there. And Gene Haas’ comments saying that they were not the fastest out there, and they are going to be midfield at best in 2020. These comments come from a man who wants to win, and right now they are no where near getting a podium, let alone a victory.
Haas also completed the fewest laps of any team across the six days of testing – sixty hundred and forty-nine laps to be precise – more than eighty less than anyone else. With less mileage than their rivals, and with a car that doesn’t appear to be that rapid, could this be a nail in the coffin for the team in Formula 1.
What Can Haas Achieve in 2020?
It is perhaps not what they can achieve which is more important, but what they cannot do. They really cannot afford another season of mediocrity; else the Formula 1 grid could see Gene Haas pulling the plug on the outfit.
Should their form in pre-season testing translate into the season, then we might just get the announcement that Haas will take his team off the grid. But it is still early days, the team has two very good drivers, they’ve got a power unit from Scuderia Ferrari. They’ve got the ingredients that could be turned into a masterpiece. It’s just whether they can find a way to put everything together.