Kevin Magnussen's F1 car in the lobby, photo credits: Hannah Newman

“Like a family” is how Haas Race Team Support Manager, Lewis Raybould, summed up the culture at MoneyGram Haas F1 team. And we couldn’t agree more. After we spent about half an hour attempting to park the car outside the Haas Banbury site as a very perplexed receptionist watched on, we entered the sleek atrium. It was complete with wonderfully Haas-colour coordinated Christmas decorations, including tinsel strung over the two F1 cars parked in the lobby, and a miniature cutout of Guenther Steiner wearing a Santa hat. Immediately we could tell that Haas was a team that was not afraid to show their fun side.


Guenther Steiner with a Santa hat, photo credits: Hannah Newman

Festive regalia aside, the entrance area contained other really cool features.  This included a very cool coffee table fashioned from the rear wing of an older Haas car, one of Magnussen’s race suits and gloves, and Grosjean’s boots and helmet. While Haas’ history is still relatively short compared to the other teams on the grid, the entrance shows their fierce determination to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with and to create history they can display there.

Despite a disappointing finish in the 2023 season, the team’s spirit was not quashed. They have been focused on progress and improvement, and this has been demonstrated through their very positive trajectory in the 2024 season, with their 7 points so far and impressive teamwork.

One of the most notable features of the Haas team was the tangible sense of community among all the people we met there across several departments. As Lewis toured us around, he seemed to not only know and get along with, but laugh and joke with someone in every room we entered, from logistics, to engineering, and race support. The smaller size of the staff there allowed for a more cohesive team, as opposed to distant, self-contained departments.
Similarly, the relationship between the team and its leaders seemed very close. Everyone there made sure to mention a personal anecdote about Guenther Steiner, the previous Haas Team Principal, a favourite of ours being ‘Captain Guenther’. Essentially, the Haas team had fashioned a cardboard cutout of Guenther Steiner in a ship-captain’s outfit, which we saw tucked half-hidden behind some crates in the warehouse, aptly named ‘Captain Guenther’. Lewis also told us how once he had threatened to send Guenther the decapitated head of the cutout. However, between humorous stories of badly-timed swearing, we also heard lots about how effective a leader he was, how close he was with members of the team, and how approachable a manager he was. There seemed to be far fewer layers between top and bottom in Haas than in the larger teams.

Romain Grosjean’s signed helmet, photo credits: Hannah Newman

This also held true for how the team talked about Gene Haas, the owner and founder of the team. There was a palpably huge amount of respect for Gene, and naturally so, as since the team is not attached to a manufacturer, it is much more strongly influenced by the personality and character of its owner. A really whimsical display of this was the small hare picture (since Haas is the Dutch word for hare) painted onto the livery, along with the slogan ‘Gene’s Machine’, both of which, we were told, were requested by Gene himself. The personal touch of the owner is another pretty unique feature of the Haas set-up.

We continued our tour with Lewis, first going to the Operations room. There was a wall of three screens with desks on two levels facing them. One cool feature that we were shown were the buttons on the phones at each desk, coded ‘red’ and ‘green’ – for Hülkenberg and Magnussen respectively – which would provide a direct link to that driver and garage’s radio during a race. We weren’t allowed to press the buttons.

The aforementioned very cool table, photo credits: Hannah Newman

We then went into a large, airy room, which hosted every employee including engineers, designers, marketing, and logistics. We were told that the team was small enough that only three people managed all of the travel for every single team member, drivers and principal included, but this did not seem to be an impediment. Similarly, the sub-mechanic assembly crew had two people, while competitor Alpine had a comparable 15.

The small size of the team was mentioned frequently to us, including by Guenther, but it never once seemed that anyone was using it as an excuse. Instead, it was mentioned as a spur for their success, as a motivating factor to work even harder to compete with much larger and more established teams, as a sense of identity and a point of pride.

We were then taken downstairs to the ‘factory’ section of the base, although we were told that this was smaller as most of the production and construction happened at their Kannapolis and Maranello bases. Lewis showed us the different freight that they shipped out to races, and explained that they had 35 tonnes of air freight to ship to every race location. He also showed us the place where they inspected the wheel guns, and let us hold them – they are surprisingly heavy, and it must be quite physical in a sub-two-second pit stop.

He also showed us the chassis of the 2023 cars, which were really cool to see in person, having just watched them zooming around Abu Dhabi only weeks beforehand. We were told that one of them was going to be used to display the new 2024 livery in the car launch. We also saw the restored chassis of Mick Schumacher’s car from 2022, which split in half following a big crash at Monaco that year.

The overall feel of the factory was of a mechanic’s garage in action. It had a very real sense of being a ‘car place’. It  was not the flashiest, most modern, or most aesthetically-coordinated Formula 1 headquarters, however this seemed not to matter in the slightest – the whole place was refreshingly authentic. It resembled a garage, staffed by car lovers working on cars, shown directly without the facade of an ultra-modern Batman-style architecture. The focus was less on marketing the team through the building, and more on the cars and the team inside.

We visited the factory for the first time before the announcement of Guenther’s departure had been made, and our second visit happened just days after the news broke. As we arrived, we were greeted with “things are a bit different since you were last here, hey?”, but still the team spirit seemed intact. We saw the newly-promoted Haas team principal, Ayao Komatsu, looking very busy as he prepared for an interview, the backdrop for which was set up in the reception area we had waited in.

We had kindly been invited back to watch the team do pit-stop practice before the 2024 season began. We were taken into the warehouse, where they had one of the previous F1 cars ready to practise on. We also felt very special as we saw the Haas F1 Academy Driver, Chloe Chambers, in the car, who had at that point not been announced. We were told that it was her first time being in an F1 car, so it was really cool to be able to witness that. We were handed earplugs and stood back to watch, as mechanics launched the car forward to the front jack operator. For anyone that’s not seen an F1 race or pit stop live, thank goodness we had the ear plugs, because those wheel guns were LOUD. There were 28 people in the room, 16 on the car at one time, all switching positions throughout the day – we asked why they rotated positions like this, and were told “it’s like an audition”; they were testing who worked best in what position on the car.

At the start of each run, several people would assemble behind the car and push the rear wing to simulate a running entry to the pit box, and so the jack operator could practise their role. We saw several different runs, most successful, a few with some mistakes, but swiftly resolved on the following attempt. The whirl of action with seemingly effortless precision was astounding, the very rhythmic sound of the wheel guns in operation was incredible. We felt super privileged to witness this firsthand.

Our visit to the factory, observing pit stop practice, and meeting members of the team was a great insight into the Haas set-up and how they operate. We had a real sense of their close-knit environment, with a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere. Despite being incredibly busy preparing for the new season, everyone seemed genuinely happy to explain to us their role and show us their workplace from the mechanics and technicians all the way up to the Team Principal himself.

Having met the team in person, it makes us so happy to see their successes this season so far, and with such a motivated and hard-working team we can only expect to see more improvement throughout this year and beyond.

Our special thanks go to Jessica Borrell, Lewis Raybould, Stuart Morrison, and the rest of MoneyGram Haas F1 team for making our visit possible, and for the fantastic experience.