When Haas arrived in F1 two years ago it had the advantage of being able to lean heavily on technical partner Ferrari for many of the components which went into its first car, the VF-16.
Last year’s significant overhaul of the regulations presented a particular challenge for this team as it wasn’t able to follow Ferrari’s lead as closely. Nonetheless it tackled the big aerodynamic rule changes admirably and repeated its eighth place in the constructors’ championship.
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The team must now tackle the inevitable rise of the likes of McLaren and Sauber this year if they are to remain a midfield contender. But as the technical rules have largely remained stable it can once again make full use of the strength of its connection with Ferrari. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of SF70-H about the VF-18.
From the initial renders the VF-18 appears to be a solid evolution of last year’s car, furthering some of their own concepts while adopting a few ideas from others. Behind the scenes there will have been work done to their braking system, which was a repeated source of frustration particularly for Romain Grosjean. However it won’t be until winter testing – possibly even the first few races – that we will learn if they have finally mastered this complex and vital area of the car.
The images do, however, let us know what the fundamental concepts of the car are and what is happening aerodynamically. It is no surprise to see push-rod and pull-rod actuated front and rear suspension respectively (above). A basic aerodynamic fairing surrounds the mandatory new Halo. At the rear, the engine cover occupies a lot of the revised regulatory area following the ban on ‘shark fins’, this is to add as much side force as possible to the car on turn-in.
Key changes to the Haas start at the front. The front wing, visibly different to the one Haas ended last year with, borrows a lot of design cues from last year’s McLaren to produce downforce and control the air over the car. Its upper flap elements are intricately designed at the Y250 intersection to shape the crucial vortex that sheds there.
This is accompanied by a revised nose design: the thumb-tip tapers to the car centreline rather than merging into the bulk of it.
You can compare the new design to the car Haas introduced 12 months ago here:
Further back we start to see Ferrari influences. The under-chassis vanes that infiltrate the back of the nose to capture as much airflow as possible ahead of the barge-boards are an almost direct copy to those on the 2017 prancing horse.
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The complex sidepods with their high leading edge and multiple inlet channels would have been a big challenge for Haas to replicate, as the side impact structures need re-positioning which makes the crash tests harder to pass – there is clearly significant benefit in this design. These are joined by an evolution of their sidepod deflectors from last season: these are big bits of bodywork which extend forward to intercept the front tyre wake, and the louvred design reduces the induced drag.
The car is capped off by a split airbox design, which is an efficient way of feeding the power unit and other coolers without compromising the design of the sidepods. At the end of the engine cover is a lower T-wing which replaces the similar element lost due to the reduction in size of the ‘shark fins’.
But as with the other nine cars due to be launched over the next two weeks, expect to see more updates arrive for this car during the pre-season tests and in time for the first race of the year.
Interactive: Compare the 2018 Haas VF-18 and 107 Ferrari SF70-H
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