Fresh call for investigation of Haas F1’s ‘Magic’ car

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

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

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Richard Bunce

Interesting the complaints never seem to get right down to are they breaking the F1 rules or they do not like the F1 rules they are not breaking. Too many F1 people talk like lawyers these days, asking questions with implied accusations. Except for Niki of course… that Haas is a plagiarized shitbox.

Carrizojim

Of course, those dirty Americans! Something that never seems to get mentioned is that Gene Haas has been running successful racing teams for decades. He makes some very high tech machines to make parts for racing cars. We use them to make parts for the F35 jet engines. The man knows how to build a race car. There’s no doubt in my mind they would have gotten there eventually without non-listed parts. Seeing FIA politics are what they are, it wouldn’t surprise me if they changed the rules to satisfy the teams now getting beaten by Haas. I feel the… Read more »

sunny stivala

@ Carrizojim. please take note that although the force india spokesman on the HAAS subject is Romanian, the real principle instigator OF THIS FINGER POINTING is as American as they come, a Californian purebred. one of the new greats in F1.

sunny stivala

A correction, the force india spokesman is Romanian born American.

subcritical71

So how do they get the cars to look the same (i.e. aerodynamic surfaces) without getting direct support… use the Mk41 eyeball and cameras like everyone else up and down the pitlane. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some portable 3D scanners being used generally in F1.

The 50% rule won’t be changed mid-season, as Haas simply wouldn’t vote for it, so the best they can hope for is to limit further development in the next years.

Jiji the cat

Nothing really to add other than good on haas. Oh and I can understand the blue tpf car, but the way you go on about the Renault livery these days I thought you’d lean towards yellow.

peterriva

Seriously, they think it’s cheating? When they all share engineers back and forth, faxes (ahem), engines, common electronic units – they honestly think there are secrets? Haas know nothing about engineering/design/racing? This whole conversation is silly.

jakobusvdl

It looks a lot like Szafnaeuer is trying to deflect attention from the poor job that F.I. have done in turning a highly competitive 2017 car into a ‘shitbox’ for 2018.
Maybe there should be some scrutiny of Haas to make sure that they are following the rules, but more urgently F.I. need to figure out how to make their car work, and how they will structure the team to remain commercially viable in future if Vijay can’t fund it.

Schumie Toronto

NC – “meaning I can buy a fully developed chassis” I think you meant to type CAN’T BUY.

Yeah the HAAS certainly looked good in testing and at the first race (till they threw it away!). How can anyone prove that they didn’t do it on their own …. unless some photocopy guy comes forward with the Ferrari manual, that is! LOL!

I hope they do well this year! It will be good to have one more team closer to the front of the grid …. and maybe on the podium too!

Tim C.

Every team in the paddock is constantly looking at every other team to see what they are doing and what ideas they can apply to their car. This has been going on for years. It’s nothing new. Folks are just a little upset now because Haas came out of the gate this year with what appears to be a pretty good car. Good for them if they have applied some of the ideas from other cars. Other teams can do the same as well. Move on . . . nothing to see here. Politics as usual in F1.

sunny stivala

After free practice I hinted on here about the start of “finger pointing” at the HAAS team progress up the field by some teams. After qualifying I hinted about the possible “protest” being hinted about against the HAAS team by some teams. Still it seemed that it was of no interest to anybody on here. But now before I spill out the rest, st-8-2-d-point. Everybody and his dog should rest assured that this now force india spill-out is nothing more than a donkey’s bray. It is the equivalent of the red bullies “if it doesn’t work for us, it is… Read more »

MIE

As long as Haas own the Intellectual property rights for the car they are legal, even if it resembles last year’s Ferrari. If however they are using Ferrari drawings to build the listed parts, then there is a problem.
Red Bull and Toro Rosso ran into this issue some years ago when it emerged that a single drawing had both Red Bull and Toro Rosso part numbers on it.

sunny stivala

For a team to be considered as an F1 constructor by the FIA the following listed parts intellectual property rights must belong to said team, NOTE 1:- This FIA listed parts list is 2 years old and could have been shortened. NOTE 2:- the team could source-out these parts and still owns the intellectual property rights to said parts. The list of parts. Monocoque. Survival cell. Front-impact structures. Roll-over structures. Bodywork-except air box. Exhaust and prescribed bodywork geometries. Wings. Floor. Diffuser. Ferrari supply HAAS the remaining elements of the car as per the FIA rules/regulations. Power unit. Gearbox and suspension… Read more »