When Haas F1 entered the series a couple of years ago, folks were interested in the manner in which they did so. While F1 does not allow the concept of customer cars—meaning I can buy a fully developed chassis and power unit from Mercedes, paint it blue and call it the TPF1 team—there is an allowance for what they call non-listed parts.
It is this non-listed parts approach to F1 that Haas chose to pursue and they hit the ground running in their first season with a Ferrari power unit and gearbox as well as a Dallara built chassis and a host of other technology purchased and not built by Haas. In fact, it is a list of parts that can be out-sourced instead of constructed. Sure, they weren’t challenging for race wins but they were scoring points midfield in their first season and most folks seemed fine with that.
Those pleasantries are starting to crack in 2018 as Haas F1 showed up in Australia last weekend, locked out the third row during qualifying and were running in 5th place ahead of the Red Bulls in the opening portion of the race. Both cars failed to finish due to a wheel nut cross-threading issue but nonetheless, they were running incredibly well prompting McLaren’s Fernando Alonso to call them a “Ferrari replica”.
There’s the old notion that people want you to do well but not too well. Now Haas F1 is possibly doing too well for the likes of Force India and others. Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer is calling for a new investigation into the Haas F1 model.
“I don’t know how they do it, it’s magic,” he said. “It’s never been done before in Formula 1.
“I just don’t know how it can be right that someone who’s been in the sport for a couple of years with no resource could produce a car… does it happen by magic?
“If it does, I want the wand.”
“All the aerodynamic surfaces have to be your own,” he said. “If they’re not, I don’t know how you can tell unless you start investigating.
“Scrutineering only tells you that it fits within the boxes of the regulations.
“Is it yours or somebody else’s [idea]? That’s the real question. And I don’t know the answer to that.
“Maybe it is their own, it’s just suspect – how can you gain that knowledge without history and the right tools and people?”
The interesting part of this story is that Sauber have become far more engaged with Ferrari this year and even back when they announced their renewed partnership with Ferrari and the change to Alfa Romeo Sauber, team boss Frederic Vasseur even commented on the non-listed parts benefit.
“It would be a huge support to Sauber to have this kind of partnership with Ferrari,” Vasseur said.
“It would be the fastest way to improve because it’s a huge step in three months. It’s a good way to improve quickly and come back onto the pace and catch the midfield, and then we can see what will be the next step.”
The dynamic with Sauber is that they have a very nice, complete facility in Hinwil that enjoys the robust capability of fully creating their own car thanks to the past relationship with BMW who bankrolled the creation of the complete racing department.
Haas uses a Dallara chassis and the chassis manufacturer is allowed to use Ferrari’s wind tunnel so that has some folks concerned that they may be gaining aerodynamic design elements from Ferrari. McLaren’s Zak Brown says there are some similarities.
“There could be some influence, there’s certainly some parts of the car that look very similar to last year’s car.
“But that’s for the engineers and the FIA to look at more closely.”
There wasn’t a lot of concern from Force India, McLaren, Red Bull or Renault last year or the year before with Haas but when they look to be fighting for best-of-the-rest, well that different and now the non-listed parts and technical relationship should be finely scrutinized. Funny how that works.
Hat Tip: Autosport