If there was ever a sporting example of starving today to feast tomorrow, Haas's decision to forego the 2021 Formula One season to focus on 2022 must be the epitome. The American team has gone through an awful lot of pain over recent years, but it all is beginning to seem like a worthwhile struggle with how their season is unfolding.
Considering that Haas has lost points with some crashes and contact by their drivers, their P7 championship position with 34 points might even be a little disappointing. Saying that after a point-less 2021 season demonstrates the remarkable turnaround they've had after what must've been a demoralizing 12 months. Perhaps helped by Drive to Survive, they're fast becoming the underdog team that everyone is rooting for this year.
There is such a spring in the step with both the Haas drivers, enhancing the feel-good factor about the team. Mick Schumacher can finally fight for points after a challenging rookie season and has a known-quantity driver to measure himself after the frosty relationship with his Russian ex-teammate last year. Kevin Magnussen, Schumacher's aforementioned barometer, is like a reborn man who has fallen in love with F1 all over again since his return to the sport. They may not be the most eye-catching driver pairing, but there is something about them that is admirably plucky and resilient.
Team Principal Guenther Steiner's gamble to focus on the new regulations at the cost of any development in 2021 could've backfired if the car, or even their Ferrari-supplied engine, were remotely sub-par. However, the car design part was within his control and seems to have been a certifiable success thus far although nothing could've been as poor as last year's undeveloped stop-gap. The upgrade package Haas brought to Hungary didn't get the outing they hoped with Magnussen's early-race pit stop, but it might see them fighting for even more frequent points after the summer break.
Ferrari came through with a power unit that has let the Scuderia fight at the front, and those further back also feel the benefits, making it doubly as jubilant for Haas. We're only at the summer break, yet Haas has scored more points than their 2019, 2020, and 2021 championships efforts combined. Their best-ever season in 2018 saw 93 points, which might be a little ambitious for this year, but it highlights how Ferrari's success aligns with Haas's after their championship challenge that year.
I wonder how much getting started on the right foot has helped the momentum at the Haas factory following the amazing Bahrain season-opener for Magnussen. His P5 finish, somewhat buoyed by Red Bull's double DNF, remains the high-water mark for either driver in 2022. The Dane kicked on from there with some top ten finishes in the early rounds and a point in Emila Romagna's Sprint Race. With the team's previous points finish coming way back in October 2020, Kevin's run of form would've lifted the spirits of every person involved to spur them on for more.