KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – The refrain “same as it ever was” in Talking Heads’ 1981 hit “Once In A Lifetime” resonates 37 years later within Haas F1 Team, as Formula One testing prepares to kick off at Circuit de Catalunya on Monday.
The only American team competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship returns for its third season with the same driver lineup it had in 2017, amid relatively unchanged technical regulations.
Drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will take the wheel of the Haas VF-18 during eight days of testing between Feb. 26 and March 9 at the 2.892-mile, 16-turn track.
Grosjean has been with Haas F1 Team since its debut in 2016, and the new year marks his seventh full season in Formula One, while Magnussen returns to the same team for the first time in his career after spending single seasons with McLaren in 2014 and Renault in 2016.
A season of relative stability is something that both drivers feel will be beneficial for the organization as they embark on another year of action.
“It’s key for the team to be able to keep growing,” Grosjean said of building consistency. “Having the same driver lineup always helps. It’s what we need right now. There’s a lot of work still to be done to improve and to grow as a big team. I’m very much looking forward to working with everyone again and going for it.”
“It’s great,” added Magnussen. “It’s my first time being with the same team for a second year in any series I’ve ever competed in. It’s a nice feeling going into a second season knowing everyone and having influenced the car development. I’m looking forward to it.”
That continuity behind the steering wheel extends throughout the race car, as the VF-18 is an evolution of the team’s second car, the VF-17, which shepherded Haas F1 Team to an eighth-place finish in last year’s constructors standings.
Forty-seven points were scored by the VF-17 during Haas F1 Team’s sophomore season, 18 points more than the total earned in the organization’s inaugural season.
The lower and wider car of 2017 carries over into 2018, but with the significant addition of the halo cockpit protection device and a drastic reduction in the shark fin. The added weight and higher center of gravity created by the halo, along with a change in the car’s overall aerodynamics, will be repeatedly analyzed by engineers as Grosjean and Magnussen turn laps in Barcelona.
“For this year, we should have a package that we’re all comfortable with,” said team principal Gunther Steiner. “That was one of our goals. We haven’t tested on the car yet, but we’ve had dyno tests. When we go out in Barcelona, we’ll know what we’ve got.”
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