The excitement is building as F1 will be kicking off its 2019 season in Melbourne this weekend. The offseason has been filled with technical updates to improve the racing spectacle. Drivers have moved around the paddock including big names coming and going from Ferrari and Red Bull. Both of these teams will also be looking to put the challenge to Mercedes, who has reigned supreme for the past five seasons. It is speculated that McLaren, Toro Rosso, Renault, Haas, and Racing Point have all gotten stronger, but with only a few points paying positions up for grabs it could prove to be an enticing battle in the midfield. Haas F1 is the only midfield team to have both of their drivers returning to their paddock this year. With Haas now heading into their fourth season on the grid, they will be itching to come good on their goal to finish fourth in the Constructors Championship.
Something should be said for having familiarity in the paddock. It can create a sense of comfort knowing that their is an understanding about the expectations of the drivers and their knowledge with how the car has progressed. Guenther Steiner is returning as team principal after leading the team to a better Constructor Championship finish in successive seasons. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will be returning for their third season together. Both drivers have exhibited quality in putting together points finishes throughout the season. While Magnussen is considered a bit more aggressive in his approach, which has sometimes seen him receive criticism, Grosjean is more patient but no less determined. Grosjean has had his fair share of mistakes though, most notable was his incident in Baku last year. Yet, each driver is more than capable to get the Haas team where they need to be on race day.
One major concern throughout pre-season testing was the reliability of the car. However, it is more likely that these issues will be able to get ironed out prior to the start of the F1 season. There has not been many purported improvements to the car from the 2018 season, which will be an interesting situation that will play out throughout this year. McLaren, Renault, Torro Rosso, and Alfa Romeo have all expressed an expectation in an improvement in race pace this season. It will be telling in the first few weeks if the smaller changes have solidified Haas’ place in the upper midfield. Regardless, they should expect quite the challenge this year and points finishes will require consistency and strategic acumen across the entirety of the team.
After a disastrous race in Melbourne last season, which could have costed the team eighteen points, Haas F1 will look to start off with a performance that shows their true potential. If the American team can put up a fight against Renault in Australia, who now have Daniel Ricciardo on board, then it will prove to be wonderful platform for consistent success. It is not even out of the realm of possibility that a podium finish could be in the works if the pieces fall into place during a race. If Sergio Perez was able to get a podium finish in Baku last year, albeit with the horrendous incident involving the Red Bull drivers, then nothing should be out of the question.
Ultimately, though, it will be down to consistent performances over the course of the twenty-one races this season that will determine if Haas can finish fourth in the Constructors Championship. There were simply too many instances of poor finishes last year, particularly from Romain Grosjean at the beginning of 2018, that caused Haas F1 to finish fifth. Guenther Steiner will certainly be under pressure to prevent these occurrences from plaguing the team this time around. They could have arguably ended up sixth had Force India, now Racing Point, not gone into administration. Haas will have a difficult task ahead of them to move up to fourth place. Yet, if any team should be motivated off of an impressive season last year, barring their poor start to 2018, it would be Haas F1. Haas has approached their entrance into F1 with patience and strategic calculation, which has seen them steadily improve year after year and now find themselves among the top teams in the series.