As Todd reported earlier, Haas have stated that their aim is to score points on their Formula 1 debut. As most reading this will know, the most recent teams to enter F1 struggled to be competitive enough to score points. USF1 failed to even get beyond building a nosecone, HRT failed after three pointless seasons, Lotus Racing lasted five seasons (changing its name to Caterham along the way) and only Virgin Racing (changing its name to Marussia and then Manor) has managed to score any points,, with a single race finish in 9th position for Jules Bianchi at Monaco in 2014 in their fifth season. Going back to these teams opening race, only one car of the six entered even saw the chequered flag, Heikki Kovalainen finishing two laps behind the winning Ferrari in Bahrain as the last runner in 15th place. As AUTOSPORT reported here, only eleven teams have scored on their Formula 1 debut, the last being Toyota in 2002 with a sixth place for Mika Salo, and then they only scored once more that year with a further sixth place for Salo in the third race. So how did the other teams in F1 today managed in their first season at the top level?
Red Bull as a team can trace its roots back through Jaguar to Stewart. They entered the sport in 1997. At their first race in Australia that year both cars retired with mechanical failure. It took until the fifth race (Monaco) before they got to see the chequered flag, scoring a double finish with second for Rubens Barrichello, and a non-scoring seventh for Jan Magnussen. This would be their only points that year. The team’s first win came in 1999 in the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, won by Jonny Herbert.
Sauber despite being owned briefly by BMW, can trace its F1 debut back to 1993, and is one of the eleven teams to have scored on its debut, with two points for a fifth place for JJ Lehto in South Africa. The team’s only win was for Robert Kubica in Canada 2008 while under BMW ownership.
1991 saw the debut of the Jordan team, which following Spyker and Midland branding became Force India. Betrand Gachot was classified in a non-scoring tenth place in the team’s first race in Pheonix, even though his engine failed with six laps to go. By the fifth race of that season however both cars finished in the points, Andrea de Cesaris in fourth and Gachot in fifth. The team would take unitl the Belgian Grand Prix in 1999 before Damon Hill scored their first win.
Toro Rosso was the Minardi team, and they made their entry to F1 with a single car in 1985. Pierluigi Martini failed to finish the first race of the season in Brazil, in fact it took until the ninth race of the year before he was even classified as a finisher (in 11th place) and even then his engine failed five laps from home. By the 13th race of the year (Belgium) he was at least running at the chequered flag, although classified 12th and five laps behind the winning car. It took until 1988 in Detroit before Martini could score the team’s first point for a sixth place. The only win came for Sebastian Vettel in Monza in 2008 when the team was Toro Rosso.
The team racing out of Enstone is the first of the current crop with several potential debuts. Toleman started in 1984, and while neither car finished the opening race in Brazil, Ayrton Senna did finish sixth on the second outing in South Africa. While the team didn’t win as Toleman, by 1988 they had become Benetton, and Gerhard Berger won in Mexico that season. This season the Enstone team will start its second period as Renault, however Renault first entered Formula 1 back in 1977 with a single car entry for the tenth race of the season, the British Grand Prix. Jean-Pierre Jabouille lasted only 16 laps before the turbo failed. The car made three more apperances that year, and failed to finish in any of them. However the team did score its first points the following year at the US Grand Prix in Watkins Glen with Jabouille finishing fourth.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering started in 1977, although Frank Williams Racing Cars had made its debut in 1969, this team was sold to its sponsor and became Walter Wolf Racing in 1977. As Frank Williams Racing Cars (using a customer Brabham) Piers Courage failed to finish on the team’s debut in the Spanish Grand Prix (the second event of the year), by the next event at Monaco he had finished second. As Williams Grand Prix Engineering, the team once again made its debut in the Spanish Grand Prix (race five of the year) with Patrick Neve finishing in 12th place, five laps behind the leader. At this stage the team were still using customer cars (this time a March chassis). It would take until the third race of the following year (South Africa) before Alan Jones would score this team’s first points with fourth place, and the first for a Williams car. The team’s first win came in the British Grand Prix in 1979 with Clay Regazzoni driving.
The current Mercedes team can trace its roots back through Brawn to Honda and BAR who entered in 1999. BAR however bought the Tyrrell entry who first entered the sport in 1970 with Jackie Stewart finishing third on the team’s first race in South Africa before winning the second, at this time they were using a customer March chassis. The team’s own chassis made its debut for the final two races of 1970 and failed to score, but finished second on the first race of 1971 and won the second. As BAR the team had Reynard build its chassis, and as that constructor had won on its debut in every category it had raced in up until that point (Formula Ford 1600, Formula Ford 2000, Formula Three, Formula Atlantic, Formula 3000 and Indy car) the team were very confident of some success. The rest of the paddock took great delight when the team failed to score all season, the team taking five events before it even got a car to the finish (Mika Salo in eighth place in Spain). By the start of the 2000 season the team were performing better with both Jacques Villeneuve (fourth) and Ricardo Zonta (sixth) in the points. Following this re-start it would take until 2006 and Hungarian Grand Prix before Jenson Button would take the team to the top step of the podium. Much like Renault, this Manufacturer had an earlier incarnation in 1954 and ’55. The team didn’t enter the 1954 season until the fourth race of the year (France), they scored a one – two finish for Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling with Fangio only failing to win two of the remaining five races in that debut season.
McLaren are the second oldest team on the grid, starting in 1966. The team failed to finish the opening race in Monaco, but then only four cars were classified, with the fourth and final finisher being five laps behind (attrition really meaning something in those days at the first race of the 3 litre engines). It took until the fourth race of the season before Bruce McLaren bought his car home in sixth place at Brands Hatch. It took until 1968 and the Belgian Grand Prix for McLaren to score the first win.
Ferrari, despite being in the series since it first season, didn’t turn up to the opening event of the World Driver’s Championship (Silverstone 1950). The team has always had a high opinion of its worth, and would often not turn up if the starting money offered was insufficient. The second race of the season was therefore its debut, and Alberto Ascari finished second for the team’s debut in the championship. The team’s first win came the following season at race four (Silverstone) when Jose Froilan Gonzalez took the team to the top step of the podium for the first time.
So what chances to Haas have of scoring in Australia, while it is traditionally the opening races that present reliability issues for many teams, in recent years this has been much less of an issue, especially with the regulations being so stable from 2015 to 2016. Haas should also be reliable with an experienced constructor in Dallara building the chassis and using so many Ferrari components, the question is whether they will be fast enough. History has shown just how difficult it is to score on a team’s debut, but most of the current grid did score in their opening season (but perhaps that is why they are still here). While having another competitive team will be positive for the sport, a failure to score first time out is no guarantee that the team will struggle.