Gene Haas has challenged his Formula 1 team with closing its performance gap to Ferrari to just 0.5s this season.

Haas enjoys a close technical partnership with Ferrari, which sees the Haas car using a number of the Scuderia’s components, including its power unit and gearbox. 

Having impressed in its first two years in F1 - by claiming back-to-back eighth place finishes in the constructors’ championship - team owner Haas wants his outfit to be much closer to Ferrari, given the amount of equipment it shares. 

“It looks like everyone is going to be better [in 2018],” Haas said. “We identified our weak spots and Guenther [Steiner] and I had a good heart-to-heart talk on that one in Mexico City about what direction we were going to take and how we were going to improve. 

“It’s no secret we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline. 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.”

The US-based squad often faced issues regarding tyre performance last season, while Ferrari became the first team to pose a significant threat to Mercedes in the title race since the V6 tubo-hybrid era began in 2014. 

Haas would have found itself consistently challenging within the top ten had it been 0.5s off last year’s Ferrari SF70H, and Haas says his team must gain a better understanding of how to use Pirelli’s tyres if it is to meet its targets for 2018. 

“We want to solve these technical issues that are holding us back. Tyres are the toughest issue we have because you have to keep the tires in a certain temperature range, but how you keep the tires in that temperature range is how you handle your downforce and your drag and how you handle sliding the tyres. 

“The tyres are very sensitive to downforce, overheating and sliding, but in order to get the tyres right you have to have the right chassis and the right aero. Without all of that working right, the cars become very difficult for the drivers and you can’t expect them to make up for a car that just doesn’t have the capability of holding the track.”

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