Why Haas' Hungary F1 update was more than just a Ferrari copy

Haas introduced a substantial upgrade at the Hungarian Grand Prix as it looked to build on a pretty strong start to the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Haas VF-22 rear wing detail

After ending up at the bottom of the constructors’ standings last year, the progress it has made with its VF-22 means it heads in to the summer break ahead of Williams, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri in the championship standings.

This is an incredible achievement when it's considered that it has been the least active in terms of development. It is testament to the job done with the original design of this year’s car but also how it has worked to get the maximum from what it had at its disposal.

Of the 12 races that preceded the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team introduced updates at only five. All of these however would be considered minor, especially against the backdrop of what other teams have produced and still remain adrift of them in terms of performance.

That is why there was a lot of intrigue about the major upgrade it brought to the Hungaroring, which prompted a lot of accusations that it was nothing more than a ‘white Ferrari’.

The conclusions some drew was that Haas had simply copied Ferrari’s lead with its latest update, which isn’t entirely accurate as it owned up to leaning on the ideas of its technical partner.

As team boss Gunther Steiner said: “We have the same engine as Ferrari, same gearbox, the same suspension. Why would we copy anyone else? And they're winning races? So 1 and 1 is 2, and we are not stupid.”

However, where Haas may have been even more shrewd, especially when compared to its closest rivals, is that its development hasn’t delineated too far from its origins either.

Haas sidepod comparison

Haas sidepod comparison

Comparing the sidepod solution that’s been raced in the opening half of the season and resided on Schumacher’s car in Hungary (left), with the new solution (centre), there’s a definite move towards the crevice sported on the Ferrari F1-75 (right) but it remains on the same design lineage.

Meanwhile, teams such as Aston Martin and Williams have completely changed their design concepts, following the example set by Red Bull, rather than refining and optimising the solutions that they began the season with.

Although it’s clear to see the inspiration that Haas has taken from Ferrari on the upper surface of the sidepod, this has also led to some significant changes to the overall shape of the bodywork, as the team explores how it can extract more performance from this current generation of cars.

Haas sidepod comparison

Haas sidepod comparison

Whereas the designers might have previously used the bargeboards and sidepod deflectors to help recalibrate the airflow’s trajectory, they no longer have these aerodynamic tools at their disposal.

This is significant with regards to the wake created by the tyres, as the front wings have also been simplified, reducing how much they can be used as a means of disrupting and altering the wake.

In light of this, Haas introduced a revised endplate diveplane design for the VF-22 at the British Grand Prix, although failed to race up until this point.

This perhaps suggested it didn’t offer the expected uplift in performance over the wishbone-style design without the new package accompanying it (blue arrow).

The shape of the sidepod has changed, with a higher shoulder resulting in a change to the overall geometry of the bodywork (green highlight).

What’s also noticeable is how the sidepod’s flank has altered too, which is not only apparent by the shape of the Haas livery, as the curvature is less abrupt, it’s also visibly wider at the base (see right-hand comparison from the front and yellow highlight).

No longer having the aforementioned aerodynamic tools at its disposal, Haas is using a more blunt approach in 2022, as it is forced to use the bodywork as a means to disrupt, adjust and recalibrate the tyre wake’s trajectory in order it’s not detrimental to performance.

The changes made to the sidepods should help to push the wake generated by the front tyres away from the car and also improve relations further downstream, not only in terms of the inwash required to improve flow into the coke bottle region, but also how the airflow is pushed across the face of the rear tyre.

The flow into the coke bottle area is also going to benefit from the changes made by the team to its rear suspension, with the team revising the fairings that wrap around the various components.

Another upshot of the sidepod revisions is the team has abandoned its centreline cooling arrangement on the spine of the engine cover that had resulted in the shark fin being lifted away from the bodywork (red arrow).

Haas VF-22 floor fences

Haas VF-22 floor fences

Meanwhile, while the changes to the sidepod are very obvious, there’s plenty going on with the VF-22’s floor too, as the team looks to gather up more performance from an area of the car where the designers have plenty of freedom.

In this respect there’s changes to the fences at the front of the floor and on the edge, an area where all of its rivals have made changes already to better optimise flow conditions and improve ride sensitivity, while there’s also undoubtedly changes been made to the underfloor too.

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