Haas team owner Gene Haas says that he doesn't feel as though he's competing in Formula 1 due to the large gap between the midfield and the front-runners. The American squad has nevertheless impressed during its opening years in F1, as it is currently competing for fourth in the constructor's championship, despite entering the series in 2016.
However, only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have won every race since the start of the hybrid era in 2014. Mid-field teams arrive at races now knowing that the three aforementioned squads are simply out of reach in terms of pace, leaving them to target being the fourth fastest outfit.
"I kind of feel like we’re not really racing in Formula 1, we’re racing in Formula 1.5,” said Haas. “So if we were to finish fourth then that would be a win in our series. When I watch some of the races and I see how fast the top three teams just blow by us on the racetrack, you’re just somewhat aghast: wow, how do you we miss that?
“I don’t know how those cars are so much faster but if I talk to [chief engineer] Ayao (Komatsu) and he’ll tell you ‘you’ve got a couple of tenths on your tyres, you’ve got a couple of tenths on your aero, your chassis is off a couple of tenths and there’s your second or two’.
“I know that we’ve put a huge effort into trying to address all those parameters but I just don’t see how we’re ever going to make up a second and a half, two seconds off of these guys. They are just so much faster than we are and it’s evident in the race."
Formula 1's owners Liberty Media has spoken about the desire to close the gap between the top teams and those further down the pecking order. One idea for 2021 is to introduce a budget cap, which Haas admits could help the current situation.
“Will a budget cap help? Probably if it reduces the size of their R&D department. I guess for every person we have they have five people. Personally, I would think that five people would make it more confusing but it does seem to work.
“If there’s anything that can reduce that gap between the technology they have and what we don’t have, that would probably be very helpful. How you go about doing that without the bigger teams somehow have workarounds I don’t know. There’s something wrong that… I don’t think we can ever make up that gap.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing