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Formula 1

Haas' Mid-Season Report Card: Bottom of the class

With the teams all now on their mid-term breaks, it's time to look at their first half performances and hand out their grades. Let's take a look at Haas...

Article
To news overview © Haas

It goes without saying that Haas have been pretty dreadful throughout the 2021 season. But it would be unfair to criticise them too harshly, given their decision to forfeit this year entirely in order to maximise their development time for the 2022 regulations.

With the 2020 car an uncompetitive mess in the hands of experienced veterans like Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, the team opted against trying to do anything to move forwards in 2021 given that it would be driven by two rookie drivers.

Unlike engine partner Ferrari, Haas decided against pursuing improvement over the winter and simply tweaked their car to meet the legal requirements of the technical regulations, slapped a new sponsor package and paint job on it, and said 'job's a good 'un'.

It's no surprise then, given there haven't been any updates to the car whatsoever, that Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin have shored up the back of the grid at every race so far.

Grade: D

Again, it's hard to be too critical of Haas, given that they never came into this season with any real ambition of improvement. Their target was to enter a car, get through the year, and give Schumacher and Mazepin a rookie season.

So, in terms of the targets they've set themselves, Haas have actually done very well. Task failed successfully, I guess?

High point: Mick Schumacher managed to get some screen time for Haas in Hungary, thanks to his staunch defence against Max Verstappen's damaged Red Bull.

Given how ill-handling the Haas is this year, it was the first real chance Schumacher had to show his skills in defence, even if it was against a severely damaged car that, eventually, managed to get ahead.

While it still didn't net the team any points, it's been the most visible moment of the team's year so far.

Low point: Every single day in 2021.

No, really, there haven't been many moments to celebrate at all. But, to highlight a particularly bad moment, Mazepin and Schumacher's near-miss at the end of the Azerbaijan GP and the resulting mini-war of words that hinted at the true nature of the relationship of the 'teammates' has probably been the moment Guenther Steiner would most like to erase...

Mick Schumacher: Almost a perfect rookie season

Given the extent of how far off the back of the grid Haas really are, Schumacher's only rival this season is really Nikita Mazepin. And, on pretty much all counts, the German driver has come out on top.

The gap between the pair has been eye-catching at times, with Schumacher sometimes the guts of a minute ahead by the chequered flag. Of course, the reality is that Schumacher does seem to have had the benefit of the optimal chassis at Haas, with Mazepin given a heavier one that accounts for some of the performance difference.

But that hasn't been the case at every round, and Schumacher has still, invariably, come out on top, with his Hungarian performance a nice fillip to round off the first half of the season.

But Schumacher has also shown a proclivity for crashing, often in expensive fashion, and at inopportune times. It's not particularly surprising, given how wayward the rear of the car appears to be, but his much less vaunted teammate hasn't crashed with quite as much frequency. It's an area he needs to target in the second half of the season.

Grade: B-

Mick has coped well with the expectations on him this year, and his attitude of being willing to listen and engage with people who know more than him has won favour. He has adjusted quicker to F1 than Mazepin and has, arguably, despite his crashes, been the more steady hand than fellow rookie Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri.

There's plenty of room for improvement, but Mick is climbing the learning curve with ease.

Nikita Mazepin: Something of an enigma

The controversial Nikita Mazepin looks somewhat out of his depth in Formula 1 so far, with plenty of silly incidents in the first half of the season and an unfortunate nickname earned from his tendency for spinning.

But the Russian driver has shown signs of improvement against Schumacher as the season has worn on, and there has to be some question marks over the gap between them given the supposed chassis differences. Given that Haas re-used the chassis from last year, rather than making new 2020-spec chassis like most of the teams, it is possible that the differences could be significant, and hard to quantify as the team aren't transparent about the chassis schedule.

Mazepin never looked overwhelmed during his Formula 2 days and it's probably worth giving him the benefit of the doubt that he and Schumacher aren't quite on a level playing field this year. Assuming both are kept into 2022, there will be far greater pressure on him to start performing.

Grade: D

Nikita has proven willing to ignore driver etiquette in relation to blocking and blue flags on occasion, and also wasn't able to obey a team instruction while under pressure trundling around at the back in Monaco.

But Nikita has also crashed on fewer occasions than Mick, and has closed the gap to his teammate in recent races, even finishing ahead of Schumacher at Silverstone despite clashing with the German in the Sprint Qualifying race.

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