F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix
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The restrictive nature of Formula 1’s cost cap has forced teams to get increasingly creative with their budget in recent times. Everything from personnel and fuel, to equipment and transport has a knock-on effect in the grand scheme – and that’s without mentioning the money that’s required to actually develop a winning car.
But Haas have managed to free up $250,000 (around £200,000) by tweaking their set-up when it comes to the gantry observation team. That’s after team principal Guenther Steiner revealed the American manufacturer had chopped that contingent in half in order to put a significant amount towards the VF-23.
It’s not unusual for F1 teams to bring entourages of seven engineers and executives to track events for analysis and monitoring purposes. However, Haas attracted attention at pre-season testing in Bahrain with a noticeably smaller gantry.
“When you need to make [savings], you look at everything, but not efficiency,” the Haas chief told reporters in Bahrain. “When you need money to invest in development, because we are at the cost cap, where do you put it? You have six people out there, or a quarter of a million [dollars] on car updates? I know what we are doing.”
Moving forward, Haas will instead deploy only those whose presence in the gantry is strictly necessary. There may be some growing pains at first as three people look to do the work of six, however.
That being said, the decision may be the precursor for change among other teams if Haas find no issues with the transition. And Steiner has no time for bias, either, after commenting he’s one of those who could be considered superfluous to the gantry set-up.
“The guys came up with that idea and I said ‘if I need to stay inside, I have no problem to do it as well’,” he said. “I don’t need to be there. But they said ‘with three seats, we can cover what we need to cover,’ and we rearranged. But it’s mainly a saving to put that money into development because we are at the cost cap.”
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Improvement is paramount for Haas this year after the only American constructor on the grid finished the 2022 season with just 37 points. That was despite Kevin Magnussen’s very promising start to the campaign, with the team’s search for its maiden podium finish now runs into its eighth year.
Nico Hulkenberg has joined the line-up as replacement for the axed Mick Schumacher and is hoping to impress after a four-year absence from F1. Developing an optimal car will be crucial to his hopes of success after so long out of the picture, and Steiner is doing his utmost to ensure the VF-23 gets all the money it needs to be competitive.
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