Haas highlights F1’s ‘really depressing’ midfield gulf

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    The belated emergence of a contender to Mercedes’ recent dominance has been a sight for sore eyes, yet the reality persists that Formula One’s midfielders are further adrift from success than ever, a ‘depressing’ sensation, according to the figurehead of one of its number.

    Five victories to cars other than the Silver Arrows in the opening eleven rounds is as many as anybody had achieved across the preceding two seasons, and this is the headline on which F1 inevitably trades, yet lying beneath the surface is an increasingly familiar script.

    Safe to surmise that multiple title candidates remain the foremost priority, though it should be of concern that a solitary podium has been gleaned outside of the sport’s recent big three – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – to date in 2017 courtesy of Lance Stroll for Williams at a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    Even penetrating the top five has proven difficult, with Force India’s fourth and fifth at Spain the only occasion that multiple cars have breached the invisible wall, and even this was on account of attrition, unlike previous eras when variable outcomes were much more commonplace.

    Contemplating the equation from a midfielder’s perspective, committing to a campaign in the knowledge that you’re fighting for scraps despite as much output as your competitors is an understandably galling experience.

    Despite joining the grid only last season and lying an extremely credible seventh in this year’s constructors standings, Gene Haas, team principal of his eponymous outfit, has confessed to finding the abyss “really depressing”.

    “The real cloud that hangs over us is the fact we’re one to two seconds off the fastest cars… we don’t understand how we can be that far off the pace with what we consider to be state of the art equipment”, Haas remarked to motorsport.com, which evokes a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm that “some animals are more equal than others”.

    While Haas is smart enough to pinpoint the fundamental reasons for this being that “the teams that develop their own engines, transmissions and chassis”, it’s his fear that a solution won’t be forthcoming combined with the sport’s inimitably selfish creed “which is really depressing”.

    The convergence of the midfield, which is “all very close together… within a second” is an enticing proposition, though it belies the present reality that “sixth through 20th, you really don’t have a chance of winning”, and anything greater can only be treated as triumph in the face of uncertainty.

    For an individual who has enjoyed much success stateside in NASCAR, given the distinctly contrasting environments and cultures, one can understand why Haas elicits these sentiments, perhaps amounting to a confounded realisation that Formula One is a truly unique beast in that near enough will never amount to good enough, no matter how much want and effort is on display.

    Playing devil’s advocate, equally explicit is the necessity for entrants to manage expectations upon commencing when so few have scaled Everest, with admission to the championship or victory realm afforded only to a select circle. To expect any more in the current age than making up the numbers is unreasonable.

    Memories of Jordans, Benettons and Saubers gracing the podiums and pinching the occasional victories appear distant, from a time when everybody was delighted to witness a battler enjoying their day in the sun. It seems that without action, those outside the established order are consigned to marking time.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • Roar Guru

      August 18th 2017 @ 6:54am
      Jawad Yaqub said | August 18th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see when the sport pursues standardised parts in the future, to see if it fixes solutions that plague little teams such as Haas from being more consistent. Unfortunately, motorsport isn’t like other sports where the cyclical natures could see a team go from wooden spooners to champions, within the space of a few seasons. Would something like a budget cap/salary cap help bring everyone on the same page? It is something that the mid-field teams have been arguing for now since the idea was brought up.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 18th 2017 @ 3:14pm
      Jamie Mills said | August 18th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

      Nice article Bayden. It is somewhat sad to see the gap between the top teams and the midfield being so great. The days of seeing an unexpected car on the podium do seem distant, obviously aside from the chaos that was the Baku GP. I’m just thankful that there is at least a couple of different coloured cars fighting for victories this season, rather than just the silver ones.

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