The American outfit, HAAS, has released the images of its 2018 F1 challenger and has become the first team to do so. The digital renderings of VF-18 have showcased all the changes differentiating it from its predecessors. The VF-18, which HAAS says is an evolution of the VF-17, the car which took the American team to eight places in constructor’s standings, will be powered by a Ferrari derived engine. For the first time in Formula 1, the shark-fin engine cover along with the T-wing have been outlawed and the Halo cockpit safety device been made mandatory.
The changes to the VF-18 are not dramatic from 2017 to 2018. Instead, HAAS has focussed on improving the aerodynamics and overcoming the handling weakness which hindered progress in 2017. The team principal said that the aerodynamicists had to work hard with the designers to modify the chassis and make sure the halo survives the mandated loads.
The team owner acknowledged the elimination of a lot of weak variables of the VF-17 and said the focus has been to make the new car more consistent than ever to close the gap with top teams. Another area where a lot of effort has gone is weight reduction. It was necessary so that Haas could make it as light as possible to improve the set-up and use more ballast. The team focussed more on refinement rather than reinvention and were able to do by efficiently putting weight where it was required.
Due to Halo, the total minimum weight of the car increased and its position also resulted in a higher centre of gravity. But the team principal had no qualms as the setup is mandatory for everyone this year. Haas has specifically worked to improve its form which has been fluctuating from race to race in its previous two years. They have incorporated changes so as to put the car on the track in the majority of races and be within half a second to a second of Ferrari, which is going to be the benchmark in 2018 for performance. Guenther Steiner, Haas team boss, hopes to have more top-10 appearances this season with the VF-18 and is foreseeing a midfield battle with teams like Renault, Williams and Force India. The red, black and grey livery has been retained by VF-18, although in a different guise.