Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has praised the “super job” that Haas have done with their 2022 car, and sees battling them as a fascinating learning curve.
On lap time, Mercedes were the quickest team last season, and Haas were an astonishing 3.38% adrift of them on average.
Contextualising that, the other nine teams were all within 2.05% of each other, and a large portion of Haas’ struggles can be accredited to the fact that the Banbury-based squad spent the majority of the season developing their 2022 car ahead of the arrival of the new technical regulations.
This year is an entirely different story though. The Silver Arrows have slipped a considerable distance back from Ferrari and Red Bull, while Haas are competent competitors in the midfield.
Kevin Magnussen, who returned to the team after the sacking of Nikita Mazepin amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, scored points in both of the opening rounds of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, out-dragging the Mercedes of Sir Lewis Hamilton in Jeddah as the Brackley side try to negotiate their way around the “porpoising” and handling problems that have made their car such a handful.
Haas, however, struggled in Australia, but they are expected to score plenty more points in 2022.
The significant improvements and their proximity to Mercedes is not something anybody was expecting this year, and the American outfit have been criticised for buying parts directly from Ferrari since their arrival in 2016.
Wolff did not want to jump to any conclusions about Haas’ instantaneous arrival into points contention, and simply sees it as a challenge for his own team to return to the top of the timing screens.
“I mean, Haas has made a huge jump from being last, the way they were into being solid and into Q3, I think, in Bahrain,” he said.
“So that’s an interesting step. For us, it’s a learning exercise, because as an organisation, we have 2000 people and we’ve been successful in the past.
“Suddenly you’re fighting a team that’s much smaller in size, so, they must have done a super job.”
Alfa Romeo also receive their engines from Ferrari, and have themselves found themselves frequently battling Haas on track in the first three races of the season, and team principal Frederic Vasseur sees nothing erroneous with what their counterparts have done as long as they fall within the regulations.
“It’s like the old and new regulations about financial, for example, that the most important is to be able to control everything, that we have restrictions on the wind tunnel, we have a restriction on the budget,” he added.
“But we have to trust the FIA, they are doing a good job and for sure, they will be on every single case.”
Haas sit seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, dropping from fourth after the Australian Grand Prix in what has been an enthralling midfield scrap.