• Haas F1 exceeds expectations at Barcelona test

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    Haas F1 team Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez drives at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona, on the test day of the Formula One Grand Prix season on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

    Haas F1 team Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez drives at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona, on the test day of the Formula One Grand Prix season on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

    The Haas Formula One team has exceeded its expectations during the first pre-season F1 testing held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, with its race car encountering only one problem.

    Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steinersaid the team surprised itself with how well it and its new car performed during this year’s pre-season testing. The American team did a total of 281 laps over four days, encountering just one significant problem on the first day when Romain Grosjean suffered a front-wing failure along the main straight. But the Frenchman was able to return later that afternoon and went on to finish second fastest on the third and penultimate day.

    “We didn’t anticipate that we would get all this running – to do a whole race distance was pretty cool today,” he told f1.com. “We have a pretty long list of what we have to fix, but we are working on it things. And it’s not like we are saying, ‘Woah, how do we fix this?’, so we are in pretty good shape.”

    Steiner also said he is impressed with how quickly and effectively the team began working together, but said inexperience is the team’s biggest enemy.

    “The mechanics got used to the car quickly and you can see the difference between days one and four – you can measure it,” he said. “We need to practice pit stops a bit more because the reality is a different story to doing it in the garage.”

    Haas F1 was established in 2014 by Gene Haas, who founded CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation Inc. The team’s car – featuring a Dallara-built chassis and power from Ferrari – will debut at the Australian Grand Prix in March with Grosjean and former Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez behind the wheel. Race cars competing in the American IndyCar series also use chassis from Dallara.

    However, despite international appeal, Formula One has struggled to oust NASCAR’s domination of motor sports in the United States, something Haas is hoping to change.

    “We’re hopeful Americans will stand behind us. We’d like to get more Americans involved in Formula One because it is a great motor racing sport and we’d be humbled to have more Americans support us in this endeavor to bring Formula One back to the United States, Haas told Agence France-Presse in an interview.

    Haas, 63, admitted he needs to create at least a competitive product before bringing other sponsors on board, but admitted expectations for their debut season would be limited to “fighting at the back of the gird” and trying to finish as many races as possible.

    Yet, he believes further American investment in the future could see a revolution of the sport’s image and popularity in the US in what has traditionally been a European dominated field.

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