In their debut season, the American based team picked up a remarkable 29 points – 18 of which came from Romain Grosjean at the first two events in Australia and Bahrain – and finished clear of Renault, Sauber and Manor in the constructor standings.
But the second season in Formula 1 is always tricky so can Haas repeat their fortunes or will they take a step back?
Mixed fortunes in 2016
For all of the positive signs in the opening half of the season, Haas fell victim to some rookie errors, an unreliable braking system and driver mistakes over the closing races. Their success waned and momentum started to leak from young setup. The nail-bitting brake failures towards the end of the season and Grosjean’s crash on the way to the grid in the wet at the penultimate race at Interlagos exemplified their change in fortunes.
Part of the problem for Haas as a new team was starting from scratch and then keeping pace with car development. This was perhaps the cause for their form dip at the back end of the 2016 season as other teams progressed. And with second seasons being notoriously difficult, Haas will be working hard over the winter to ensure that their car remains competitive for the entire campaign.
That aside, Haas had an unprecedented season for a debut team in modern-day Formula 1.
“I think it was a very successful entrance into Formula One,” said team owner Gene Haas. “We accomplished all of our major goals and, actually, surpassed what we expected at the beginning of the season.”
“I was a little bit surprised at the initial points scoring. In Melbourne we were sixth – almost unheard of in Formula 1 that in your first race out you would score that high.”
Good signs for 2017
Moving into their second season in Formula 1 gives Haas some optimism.
“On the plus side, we’re not trying to put the whole pit crew together. We don’t have to worry about getting trucks and other infrastructure. We have all that in place.”
Beyond having the fundamentals in place, Haas will again be using the Ferrari engine. This often caused Haas to be labelled as the Ferrari ‘junior team’ but nonetheless it gives the American outfit enough power in the car to be competitive with the front-runners.
“It’ll be just as challenging as it was last year, but I think with the knowledge we have, we should actually perform a little bit better this year.”
“If we can do a little bit better because our business model in Formula One allows us to operate more efficiently, we might be able to move up a position or two.”
Magnussen takes the seat
The main change at Haas this season will come by way of the driver line-up. Gone is Gutierrez and in comes Kevin Magnussen.
By bringing in the Danish driver with experience at Renault and McLaren, Haas will be aiming for consistency and an accumulation of points over the entire season.
“This is a fantastic opportunity and I’m very happy to be a part of Haas F1 Team. Obviously, I’m confident in my abilities as a Formula One driver, but I’m also very confident of what Haas F1 Team can do in its second season and every season thereafter.”
Magnussen will take to the track for Haas for pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya starting on 27 February.