Not for the first time in his Formula 1 career, Romain Grosjean is a man under pressure after a tumultuous 2018 season so far.
Haas Formula 1 development driver Santino Ferrucci will make his IndyCar debut this weekend, substituting as part of the driver reshuffle at Dale Coyne Racing for the double-header at Detroit.
His development programme with Haas and current Formula 2 commitments with Trident mean that he remains on a path to F1. However, in an era in which seats at the pinnacle are as hotly contested as ever, getting a foot in the door at an IndyCar team could be hugely valuable.
Monaco marked the first appearance of the purple marked ultrasoft Pirelli tyre at a race weekend. Introduced at the start of this season and initially billed as a qualifying tyre, the compound seems decidedly similar to a supersoft in both pace and longevity. An assertion supported by Haas and Renault’s decision to take just soft and ultrasoft tyres to the Canadian Grand Prix, avoiding the supersoft completely.
It could be a rather inspired call.
Haas have made an early impression on the paddock. The American based squad converted their excellent pre-season into a strong debut weekend, as Romain Grosjean took full advantage of a timely red flag to secure sixth place. Eight points already on the board for F1’s youngest team and their lightening start has certainly put pressure on Sauber and Manor as the teams who stand the most to lose should Haas continue to shine.
F1 finally has an American team back on the grid. Haas revealed the VF-16 this afternoon, their 2016 challenger and “Very First” F1 entry. An aesthetically pleasing livery, albeit another lacking the distinct colours which many fans are pleading for, as well as some interesting technical features mean that Haas have certainly turned heads on their first day in the spotlight.
Speculation regarding potential investors has been circulating for years. According to reports released in Italian media, two new teams may join the current roster of eleven by 2015, with former HRT Team Principal Colin Kolles and NASCAR personality Gene Haas both expressing an interest in introducing new outfits. With Bernie’s desire to expand the field only growing after HRT’s untimely exit at the end of 2012, the potential is high and optimism is seemingly rife.
The Potential For 13…
As 12 became 11 prior to the 2013 campaign, Bernie Ecclestone stated his desire to fill the vacant spot left by HRT on the grid. However, in this modern era of Formula One where even the established teams are facing financial disaster, the sport does not always seem to be a sensible investment. However, as economic growth is beginning to spread across the globe and with the sport given a new lease of life, interest seems to be at a recent high.
If the reports are true, the FIA are currently speaking to two potential team owners and why wouldn’t they. A larger grid means more sponsors, more interest and a better spectacle and 26 cars would be a remarkable feat and one which would encapsulate the great achievements which Bernie has enjoyed throughout his tenure as F1 supremo.
The names referred to in the report are very interesting indeed. Gene Haas, co-owner of NASCAR outfit Stewart-Haas Racing has been interested for a considerable amount of time now, yet the more recent emergence of Colin Kolles has been of particular interest in this report. He took over from HRT founder Adrián Campos at the end of 2011 as Team Principal. Both are considered to have excellent chances of constructing the infrastructure required to build a team prior to 2015. Kolles could potentially rebuild HRT, yet this is unlikely considering the fact that almost everything was sold when the team collapsed. Meanwhile, Haas evidently has the contacts and finances required to build a team in double-quick time.
Curse of the Backmarkers
The last time F1 welcomed new teams came in 2010, when Lotus, Virgin and HRT entered the fray. These three teams have attempted to break into the midfield, with several different owners, investors and engineers, yet each attempt has failed to date. HRT have already fallen foul of the financial times and Caterham in particular are seemingly reaching the limit of their determination. Tony Fernandes had hinted at the possibility that if his team fail to earn their maiden points this season, the majority shareholder will be considering his position at the team. While Marussia owners have not made such a claim, five seasons without a point could prove concerning.
The struggles of these teams has the potential to ward off potential investors who want to start from scratch. It seems to be a herculean task to even advance into the midfield, let alone become a front runner. The days are seemingly gone when people like Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head could start from scratch, initially employing just 17 people and win the championship after just three years in the sport. It now seems a far more attractive proposition to invest in an established outfit as oppose to starting from scratch. Dietrich Mateschitz has proven that success can be found by virtue of purchasing an established team. Jaguar became Red Bull at the end of 2005 and by 2010, the former midfielder’s were had achieved both drivers and constructors glory.
It would be great to see new teams in F1. A larger grid will be welcomed by almost everyone, but the likes of Haas and Kolles may have to approach with caution and patience. A lot of patience…