Described as an evolution of the team’s second car, the VF-17, which carried the American team to eighth in the constructors’ standings last year, the VF-18 again relies heavily on technology from Ferrari, including the power unit and transmission.
As such Gene Haas, the American squad's founder and chairman, says the Italian team will be the benchmark for performance in 2018.
“It’s no secret we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline," said Haas. "We need to be within a half-second of the Ferraris in order for us to be competitive. We weren’t last year. I would say we were a second to a second-and-a-half slower than the Ferraris. Overall, we were maybe two seconds off the pole qualifiers, so we need to knock a second off that if we really want to be competitive.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of the variables where we knew we were weak, and we knew where we needed to focus. We need to be able to go to the majority of races and put the car down on the track and be fast. We’ve focused on what it’s going to take to get the cars to be consistent and to close that gap between the top cars.”
It turned a wheel for the first time during a filming day at the Spanish track on Saturday, but will be given a first serious run by Romain Grosjean, who will then hand over to team mate Kevin Magnussen on day two.