March 30, 2018 / 10:22 AM / 7 months ago

Haas F1 team hit back at rivals' criticism

LONDON (Reuters) - Haas have come out fighting after rivals stepped up their criticism of the U.S.-owned Formula One team’s close technical ties to Ferrari.

FILE PHOTO - Motor Racing - F1 Formula One - Formula One Test Session - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain - March 9, 2018 Romain Grosjean of Haas F1 Team during testing REUTERS/Albert Gea

The newest team on the starting grid, who made their debut in 2016, have produced an impressively quick car whose resemblance to last year’s race-winning Ferrari has been highlighted.

“I just don’t know how it can be right that someone who’s been in the sport for a couple of years with no resource could produce a car (like this),” Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer told motorsport.com.

“Does it happen by magic? If it does, I want the wand.”

Haas principal Guenther Steiner said his team had nothing to hide.

“Everybody is allowed to have an opinion. Some people have an opinion, which I think is based on no facts,” he said on Friday in a preview of next week’s race in Bahrain.

“I think the whole of Haas F1 team can be proud of the work done between last year and over the winter to produce the VF-18 and get it into its competitive condition.

“It’s merit to them. They can be proud. If people have an issue, fine with me. We report what we are doing, like everybody else, to the FIA. That’s why I’m more than confident we are not doing anything wrong.”

Haas’s chassis is built by Dallara in Italy. The team use Ferrari engines, gearboxes and front suspension as well as other parts they are allowed to buy in, and they have access to the Ferrari wind tunnel.

The sporting regulations bar teams from passing on or receiving information on listed parts, that could include data and drawings, directly to or from another competitor or via a third party.

McLaren’s double world champion Fernando Alonso dubbed the Haas a “Ferrari replica” in Melbourne.

“I’m perfectly fine with how we do business,” said Steiner.

“We design our own aero, as per the regulations, and yes, we use mechanical parts from Ferrari, but everybody’s known that for the past two years. We are well above board, and happy to be where we are.”

Haas could have picked up a points bonanza in last Sunday’s Australian opener but retired both cars, that had run fourth and fifth, due to wheels that were not properly attached at pitstops.

“We had too much work to do on the car and didn’t practice enough. I think the key to all of this is to get the practice in before the race so that we’re prepared for all aspects of the race,” Steiner said.

“We made mistakes, but we do have processes in place.” 

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond

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