Formula 1 likes a bit of controversy. It adds friction and build competitive spirit as well as innuendos and allegations. The Haas F1 team has been in F1 for a few years now under what is called a non-listed parts arrangement meaning they are buying parts from a list of allowable parts to be outsourced and building car around those parts.
It is a substantial list but it is fully within the FIA regulations. Regardless, some teams, such as Force India, have suggested that an investigation should be launched into the situation as Haas F1 locked out the third row and ran ahead of Red Bull at the season-opening race in Australia.
The thought here is that the team know about the non-listed parts arrangement, but they fear that the technical partnership with Ferrari has gone beyond just supplying parts with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso calling this year’s Haas a Ferrari replica. Haas F1 has answered.
“Everybody is allowed to have an opinion. Some people have an opinion, which I think is based on no facts,” said team boss Gunther Steiner.
“I think the whole of Haas F1 team can be proud of the work done between last year and over the winter to produce the VF-18 and get it into its competitive condition.
“It’s merit to them. They can be proud. If people have an issue, fine with me. We report what we are doing, like everybody else, to the FIA. That’s why I’m more than confident we are not doing anything wrong.”
The Dallara chassis is one component that Haas purchases along with front suspension, engine gearbox and a series of other parts from Ferrari. The team also has access to Ferrari’s wind tunnel.
A few years ago (2009-2012) there were some complications with two teams using the same Aerolab wind tunnel and it was alleged that Lotus F1 (1 Malaysia) had become privy to the test results and aerodynamic structure of the Force India which had tested there. It was a complicated situation regarding lack of payment, CAD files that were copied to personal folders and the entrance of new team for the 2013 season. You can read more about it here.
Point is, concern over Hass F1’s design being similar to Ferrari and the innuendo that the team could be benefitting from sharing of information etc.
“I’m perfectly fine with how we do business,” said Steiner.
“We design our own aero, as per the regulations, and yes, we use mechanical parts from Ferrari, but everybody’s known that for the past two years. We are well above board, and happy to be where we are.”
I’ve seen side-by-side comparisons and to be honest, the areas of development are very limited in F1 so the results of all cars is that they are similar. If you consider that all the F1 cars look kind of the same, that’s because the regulations are very specific and the engineers that work on the cars all have the same great ideas and approaches to these areas that they can develop in.
Also, Gene Haas is no stranger to creating winning race teams and cars. He’s been doing that for years now so is it a shock that his team are methodically moving forward on the grid? Maybe not. Unless the FIA can find concrete evidence of collusion between Ferrari and Haas, I think the other team will have to concede that the non-listed parts gambit works and if anything else, it should prompt more teams to enter F1 and be competitive.
There is a fine line between the regulations of a constructor having to build their car and the non-listed parts program. I understand the desire to not have customer teams in F1 but I also understand that for the health of the series and a full grid, this may not be a bad concept and if Ferrari or Mercedes leave in 2021 due to the new regulations, customer teams may be needed period.
It’s not unprecedented as Sir Frank Williams got his start in F1 this way. In those days you could buy a March chassis, a Ford DFV engine and go racing and be competitive. How do you feel about customer cars? How do you feel about non-listed parts team programs? We said at the time that Gene would have been better off doing the non-listed parts program and acquiring Manor F1 and he would have saved even more money. He eventually agreed but nonetheless, a new team could acquire Sauber, Toro Rosso, Force India or Williams and do just that.
Hat tip: Reuters