The Haas F1 team says that it will keep on developing its current car in 2018, rather than switching focus early to next year’s chassis.
Last season the team effectively stopped development work after the summer shutdown. That was to enable it to focus its limited technical resources on the VF-18 instead.
Team boss Guenther Steiner later expressed regret about the decision, feeling that they had made the switch too early. The team consequently suffered in the concluding races of 2017.
However in other respects the decision has paid off. The car made a strong début in Australia, with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean both starting the race in the top six. Unfortunately problems with pit stops meant both drivers retired from the race.
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“We plan to develop this car longer,” Steiner confirmed this week. “The regulations for next year don’t change.
“This year we make evolutions and what we do this year we’ll introduce to next year’s car,” he added. “We’ll do that more on a normal timescale like the other teams.”
Steiner went on to explain why the team had needed to switch focus as early as it did last year.
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“We didn’t mature as much as we wanted from 2016 to 2017,” he admitted. “It was up and down and we didn’t really know why.
“We got in the right direction, but we needed time to fix that,” he said. “And to fix that you need people and new processes.
“I would say it will take us a little bit more time. But I’m pretty confident this year we’ll get better at it.”
The team has been busy dealing with rumours that the VF-18 is a ‘Ferrari clone’ since its successful track début in pre-season testing. The car’s performance was confirmed by a strong showing in Melbourne.
Grosjean said he is confident that this is a fair display of Haas’ current level of competitiveness.
“We’ve always been competitive in Melbourne,” he said. “But this year, knowing the baseline we’ve got, I think the philosophy is that we want to stay up there.
“To be in such a situation at the beginning of the season does give you hope that you can … keep the development going,” he added.
“To finish fourth in the constructors’ [would be] a big party!” he enthused. “Even if you finish fifth, it’d crazy for a team in its third year in Formula 1.”
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