Haas is still in Formula 1 and this time its got new funding and new drivers and here’s the new car that will take its place on the grid: the VF-21.
In an unusual tactic, Haas let go of their long-employed experienced driver lineup in favour of two rookies: Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. While Mick is a pool of driving talent and sponsors, it’s Nikita who seems to have brought in most of the much-needed financial support for Haas. Mazepin is the son of a Russian business magnate and billionaire and the team’s new title sponsor also happens to be a Russian company, a big name in the fertilizer industry. In fact, the livery design of the VF-21 bears a questionable similarity to the colour scheme of the Russian flag. While it’s the same red-white-blue combination that can represent American, British and French flags as well, the sequence seems quite distinctive from those three.
However, Haas has been in hot waters even before the VF-21 was unveiled. It’s because their cash cow signing, Mazepin, has a history of unethical behaviour on and off the track. While any driver’s personal life is not anyone’s business, Nikita’s mistake was to share his lifestyle on his social media handles. The most recent and possibly most serious incident involved Mazepin groping a female acquaintance in a car without her consent and laughing it off. All posted on an Instagram story. While the girl has publicly stated that there was no malice in the incident, her defence was judged to be more of a pressured response than a genuine one. While Haas stated that they have dealt with the matter privately, many fans are advocating to remove Mazepin from the paddock due to his actions. It seems that as long as there are no further incidents of harassment or unethical behaviour involving Nikita Mazepin, the young Russian might just get to enjoy his stint as an F1 driver. I saw little of his Formula 2 drives but my impression was that he has Magnussen levels of aggression but none of the finesse. Only time will tell if there’s a talented F1 driver behind those questionable actions.
On the flip side, we have poster boy Mick Schumacher. Son of the legendary Michael Schumacher and 2020 Formula 2 Champion, there are high expectations from the German driver. While the Haas may not be the most competitive car on the grid, a couple of point-scoring finishes in the first half of the season would only fuel the expectations of seeing him drive for the Scuderia Reds.
Given that Haas will still be using a Ferrari power unit, which is likely still not as powerful as the Mercedes or Renault unit, their hopes rely on a good chassis that can allow them to hit the track in good form. Guenther Steiner is still at the helm for the team in the paddock and he should be able to keep the two rookies out of too much trouble on track.
What do you think of the VF-21 livery? How many points do you think Haas will score in the first 7 races? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more F1 updates and news about cool cars.