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Haas F1 Rolls Out Gen 2 Car In Barcelona

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 28 2017

The new Haas F1 car took to the track in Spain on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Haas F1)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Second-generation car. Revamped international driver lineup. Same “can-do” American attitude.

That was the package Haas F1 Team rolled out Monday at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain on the official opening day of testing for the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Kevin Magnussen, who joined the team during the offseason, was the first driver to tour the 2.89-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn track. Magnussen recorded 51 laps/147.517 miles/237.405 kilometers in the Ferrari-powered No. 20 Haas VF-17, successor to last season’s VF-16. Magnussen posted his best lap time of 1 minute, 22.894-seconds on his 44th tour on a new set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires. That time put Magnussen, a third-year F1 participant, fourth among 11 drivers hot-lapping under various agendas.

Three-time World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes topped the chart at 1:21.765-seconds. Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion from Germany, led the pack with 128 test laps.

“We had a few issues, but the good thing is that they were small issues,” said Magnussen, a 24-year-old resident of Roskilde, Denmark. “Even though they stopped us from some running, it wasn’t something that is at-all worrying for the coming days. It’s kind of the typical baby problems you have with the car when they’re completely new.

“Except for that, the first feeling of the car is nice. It’s good to finally get that feeling of the car after looking at it, and all the anticipation for the faster cars. It’s a good feeling. Today’s been a day I’ve enjoyed a lot.”

This round of Barcelona testing continues through Thursday before breaking for the weekend and resuming March 7-10. The season-opening Australian Grand Prix is set for March 26 in Melbourne, Australia. 

As was the case last season, Haas F1 Team again is a technical partner with Scuderia Ferrari, F1’s oldest and most glamorous organization. That arrangement with the factory in Maranello, Italy, includes the power unit, gearbox and mechanical components such as suspension and brake systems on the VF-17.

Led by Frenchman Romain Grosjean, the VF-16 carried Haas F1 Team to an eighth-place finish in the 2016 Constructor standings. Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico scored 29 points in their VF-16s during Haas F1 Team’s inaugural season _ largest point haul by any new Formula One team during this millennium.

Businessman/racer Gene Haas, chairman of Haas F1 Team, also is the founder of Haas Automation, the organization’s title sponsor. Along with retired three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart, Haas also is co-owner of Kannapolis, N.C.-based Stewart-Haas Racing. That multiple championship-winning organization opened the 2017 season Sunday at Daytona International Speedway with Kurt Busch’s victory in the Daytona 500, SHR’s first race with Ford Motor Company after an offseason switch from Chevrolet Racing. Busch won the 2004 Cup championship in a Ford fielded by Roush Fenway Racing.

Haas’ globetrotting F1 organization made its debut in testing at Barcelona one year ago with a well-defined combination of racing and marketing objectives.

“Being a Formula One participant brings a level of credibility that you just won’t get through traditional advertising,” said Haas, founder of the first American team to compete in F1 since 1986. “People are kind of ‘Show me’ people, like, ‘Show me what you can do and then I’ll believe in you.’ That was the initial concept _ to convince people of our ability to do things others can’t, and I think that translates into being a machine tool builder.

“ ’Bigger, Better, Faster, Lighter’ is what we strive for in the machining industry and it’s what we strive for in motorsports. People see what we can do in Formula One, and people believe Haas Automation can build world-class machine tools.”

Magnussen, son of endurance sports car ace Jan Magnussen, began the morning session with reconnaissance runs on Pirelli’s P Zero Orange hard tire before transitioning to the White medium tire. His best time in the morning was 1:26.404-seconds on his penultimate lap. The Dane’s final lap ended with a spin in Turn 10 that pitched the car’s nose into a barrier. While the impact broke the car’s nose, the remainder of the chassis was undamaged and Magnussen drove it back to the paddock for repairs.

Four separate runs were completed in the afternoon session, with Magnussen running on the White mediums for stints of nine and five laps, respectively, before switching to the Yellow softs in the final hour.

Team Principal Guenther Steiner said the teething problems Magnussen experienced with the VF-17 were expected. “We are here to learn and that is what we did,” Steiner said. “Our learning process is a lot better than last year because our people have worked together for a year now and we know more about the car. We are a lot better prepared.”

Incorporating “VF” into the car’s name is a nod to the history of Haas Automation. The first CNC machine manufactured by Haas Automation was the VF-1 in 1988. The “V” stands for vertical, an industry standard designation for a vertical mill. Haas added “F1” to the name to unofficially designate it as the company’s “Very First One.”

The VF-17 was built under a new set of technical regulations featuring an advanced aerodynamic package designed to create a higher level of downforce. A wider front wing, larger barge boards, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width comprise the changes. Also featured are wider tires from Pirelli by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear, a 25-percent increase to bring the front tires to 305 millimeters (12 inches) and the rear tires to 405 millimeters (15.9 inches).

“I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” Steiner said. “You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability.

“Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

Colors from the original car were carried over to the VF-17, but the overall scheme is different. A dark gray makes up the majority of the livery, with tones of red, black, white and light gray incorporating the look of Haas Automation’s complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers.

Approximately 1,300 employees work at Haas Automation, with the Oxnard, Calif.-based company exporting its machines to more than 60 countries. The VF-17 showcases Haas Automation’s commitment to technology and innovation to a passionate, global audience.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 28 2017
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