They have been one of the more eccentric teams in the short time they have been in Formula 1, and finally, the Haas F1 team have unveiled their car for this year, the VF-21.
Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Sam Stewart & Aiden Hover
Haas’ 2021 challgner, the VF-21
Their new livery moves away from the traditional Haas livery we have come to know and love and now has an increased prevalence of the team’s American heritage. The main body of the car is a clean white with red and blue accents along the wings and side. These colours likely come from the teams new UralKali sponsorship, but the American tie in also works well.
The launch of the car was slightly marred by the fact that the team is unable to receive their power unit from Ferrari. Due to COVID restrictions, the Maranello-based Scuderia will not be able to deliver the engine until Pre-season testing. That however wasn’t the main focus of the team, the American outfit, now entering their sixth season in the sport, is looking to progress from what has been a difficult couple of years and to move back into the midfield where the team formerly stood.
Another angle of the VF-21
The car is not the only new thing at Haas, as behind the wheel of the two VF-21s will be an all-new rookie lineup. The 2021 cars will be piloted by reigning Formula 2 Champion Mick Schumacher, whose surname precedes him, and Nikita Mazepin, an unpopular, yet hard and fast-paced racer who was once Mick’s title rival. Whilst the two carry personalities that many consider to be opposites, their common and most important trait comes alive when the helmet is on. The risks of fielding an all-rookie lineup were not lost upon team principal Guenther Steiner. The Italian confessed that it is a “gamble,” but his main concern for the driver pairing would be “damage control,” stating that the goal would be to get the drivers prepared for the long term.
Long-term planning has been a central theme at Haas for 2021. The team revealed they would not be using any of their development tokens for 2021 and they will not do any development on their aero package any time after Pre-season testing in Bahrain. Whilst this strategy brings forth imminent risk, Steiner addressed it saying, “Yeah, there is that risk, but we need to live with that risk, We need to see the big picture is the mid-to-long-term, it’s not short-term. If we just see the short-term, then in ’22 it will be, Why didn’t we do the ’22 car? Because now we cannot catch up.” His sentiments have been echoed by team owner Gene Haas who remains optimistic about the future, stating, “Going forward in 2022 and 2023, maybe doors will open. Maybe things will happen. Maybe some of the big teams might call it quits.”.
Side view of the VF-21
Gene is however not blinded by his optimism as the American admitted they cannot be challenging the front runners of the grid, but they can aim to be the best satellite team on the grid. “A satellite team? Yeah, we want to be the best satellite team we can be. Do I want to make the investment and try and duplicate a Mercedes, Red Bull, or McLaren? No. Because first of all the budget cap won’t let you do it, so you can’t do it anyway! So the best we can hope for is to be fundamentally a good satellite team, and to have a strong relationship with the team we are a satellite team to, which is Ferrari.”
As we edge ever closer to the season opener in Bahrain, questions will be asked regarding the state of the team and, perhaps more importantly, their driver pairing, as curiosity and controversy have surrounded the rookies and those questions will need to be answered swiftly.
Read about the Aston Martin car launch here and Haas’ development plan for the 2021 season here.