Gene Haas has challenged his team to be within half a second of Ferrari this season in order to be competitive in its third year in Formula 1.
Haas enjoys a close technical partnership with Ferrari that sees it using the Scuderia’s power unit and gearbox among other components. Having impressed in its first year in the sport, the team remained competitive last year and retained eighth place in the constructors’ championship but team owner Haas says it should be closer to Ferrari based on the equipment it shares.
“It looks like everyone is going to be better,” Haas said. “We identified our weak spots and Guenther (Steiner, team principal) and I had a good heart-to-heart talk in Mexico City about what direction we were going to take and how we were going to improve.
“It’s no secret we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline. We need to be within a half-second of the Ferraris in order for us to be competitive. We weren’t last year. I would say we were a second to a second-and-a-half slower than the Ferraris.
“Overall, we were maybe two seconds off the pole qualifiers, so we need to knock a second off that if we really want to be competitive.”
Asked what he wants to achieve in 2018, Haas is unwilling to give a target in terms of championship position but highlights one specific area as being key to an improved performance from his team.
“We want to solve these technical issues that are holding us back. Tires are the toughest issue we have because you have to keep the tires in a certain temperature range, but how you keep the tires in that temperature range is how you handle your downforce and your drag, and how you handle sliding the tires.
“The tires are very sensitive to downforce, overheating and sliding, but in order to get the tires right you have to have the right chassis and the right aero. Without all of that working right, the cars become very difficult for the drivers and you can’t expect them to make up for a car that just doesn’t have the capability of holding the track.”