Here’s an ominous twist in the nearly year-long coronavirus saga and its effect on Formula 1.
The Haas F1 Team says it won’t be able to even fire up its 2021 F1 car until the March 12 test in Bahrain. Unlike rival McLaren, which fired up it’s 2021 engine on social media recently, the inability of key Ferrari technicians to make the trek from Ferrari headquarters in Italy to Haas’ U.K. factory has halted that stage of the preseason operation.
According to a piece on Formula 1’s official website, Haas did pick up its 2021 chassis from manufacturer Dallara in Italy, but decided to do the actual build back in the U.K, where Haas houses so many of the parts that are carrying over from 2020.
Here’s where things get really frustrating, if you happen to be in the Haas camp.
The U.K. government is hammering home a mandatory 10-day self isolation period for anyone entering the country due to the coronavirus. That isolation period, with the season so close to commencing, is not an option for Ferrari, which doesn’t want to idle key personnel for that long at this point of the preseason.
Haas has had a technical partnership with Ferrari since entering F1 for the 2016 season.
Haas, therefore, plans to take the car to the three-day Bahrain test, which is still scheduled to begin March 12, and fire the car up there.
“We have issues with Ferrari employees coming to Banbury to start up the engines because they would need to quarantine,” Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner told F1.com. “We cannot afford that timewise, so we decided to do the fire up in Bahrain. The team will assemble the car in the UK, and then the final fire up will be in Bahrain before test.”
That turn of events puts the Haas team behind some of its rivals. And following a season in which Haas finished ninth in the F1 Constructors Championship with the lowest number of points (3) in the team’s five-year history in the series. The team also enters a transitional 2021 season for the team with rookie drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Stiener added that while the engine fire-up delay is not ideal, things could be worse.
“But to our advantage, there is a lot of carryover so it’s not as dramatic as it would have been in any other year,” he said.
The combination of a new driver lineup, COVID-19 travel restrictions for personnel, a delay in being able to fire up its 2021 engines, and a disappointing 2020 campaign seems to have the entire Haas program back to the drawing board as the team enters its sixth year in F1. How soon do you thing we’ll see Haas fighting for podiums?
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