New sponsor, new look for Haas as American team kick off 2023 launch season?

Thomas Maher
2023 Haas VF-23 concept livery.

Haas are set to kick off the 2023 F1 car launch season this week. With a new title sponsor on board, might the VF-23 look very different from its predecessors?

Formula 1’s traditionally busy pre-season is about to begin, with eager fans and analysts desperate to pore over the new machines to attempt to figure out the logic behind the designs and figure out if a team could have stolen a march on their rivals.

Over the years, it’s become an accepted fact that the cars, as presented at launch, are merely superficially similar to the cars that will actually roll out on track for testing or the first race – the teams all keeping their cards close to their chest rather than reveal their potential ingenuity.

Most of the teams still opt to present their cars as if they are the finished article, but Haas have broken away from that established norm since arriving into Formula 1 in 2016.

The American-led team essentially hold two launch events per season, with the physical car unveiled to the public from the pitlane on the morning of the opening day of pre-season testing.

But, before that, still eager to cash in on the pre-season hype, Haas usually present the livery with which their car will be adorned for the upcoming season.

It’s this livery launch that Haas are holding on January 31st, kicking off the 2023 car launch season by releasing computer renders of their new car with its new paint job.

With a new driver signing in Nico Hulkenberg, pairing up with veteran Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, Haas are going into 2023 with a new title sponsor: MoneyGram.

It’s a significant signing, as the Texas-based money transfer company are an established name in international finances, one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, and trading on the NASDAQ stock market.

With Haas previously relying on team owner Gene Haas’ own Haas Automation as its primary source of income, the American team have dabbled with short-lived title sponsorship deals in the past. Let’s revisit Haas’ liveries, and their main sponsors, from each season since entering Formula 1 in 2016.

2016 – Haas VF-16

Esteban Gutierrez driving his 2016 Haas VF-16 at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Haas’ very first Formula 1 car, the VF-16, was driven by Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez. A glance at the car makes it obvious that sponsorship was particularly thin on the ground for the fledgling team, with the car bedecked in a livery that is a straightforward replication of the colours of Haas Automation.

2017 – Haas VF-17

Kevin Magnussen drives his Haas VF-17 at 2017 pre-season testing in Barcelona.

There wasn’t much change for the start of Haas’ second season in Formula 1, with Haas Automation remaining the main sponsor on the F1 cars.

Esteban Gutierrez was replaced, with Kevin Magnussen stepping in to fill the second cockpit. Haas evolved their livery for the start of the season, switching to a predominantly grey colour scheme.

But the American team tweaked the livery further from the Monaco Grand Prix weekend onward, replacing some of the red accents with further grey.

“With the change in the size of the numbers and its positioning, we looked into making the entire car a little more visible,” said team boss Guenther Steiner of the change.

Romain Grosjean drives his Haas VF-17 at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.

2018 – Haas VF-18

Kevin Magnussen driving his 2018 Haas VF-18 at the British Grand Prix.

Having moved up to eighth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017, Haas targeted further improvement with a ‘refined’ design for their 2018 VF-18.

The most visually obvious difference is the addition of the mandatory Halo device over the cockpit, while Haas reverted to a brighter colour scheme for their livery. With Haas Automation still the primary sponsor, the livery designers opted for a sharper contrast between the white, black, and re-introduced red elements of the paint job. recommends

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2019 – Haas VF-19

Kevin Magnussen driving the Rich Energy Haas VF-19 in pre-season testing in Barcelona.

2019 was a marked departure in terms of Haas’ appearance, as the American squad landed their first title sponsor: British energy drinks company Rich Energy.

The partnership resulted in a very dramatic livery design, harkening back to the days of the iconic John Player Lotus, with the black base complemented by gold accents.

The car showed flashes of speed too, but proved problematic over a race distance. Struggling to understand the difficult VF-19, the partnership between team and sponsor turned bizarrely acrimonious as Rich Energy CEO William Storey took to Twitter to openly mock the performances of Haas.

Following on from another twist in the tale as Rich Energy became embroiled in a copyright dispute with British cycling manufacturer Whyte Bikes over their logo, Haas severed ties with Rich Energy ahead of the British Grand Prix. The livery remained largely unchanged for the remainder of the season, albeit with any mention of the drinks company being painstakingly peeled off the car.

2020 – Haas VF-20

Kevin Magnussen driving his 2020 Haas VF-20 at the Italian Grand Prix.

Having weathered the constant dramas of their ill-fated first title sponsorship deal, Haas turned back to basics for 2020 as their VF-20 boasted a simplistic livery that revisited their now-traditional colour scheme as primarily used in 2016 and 2018.

The car was driven by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in their last season together, with Pietro Fittipaldi getting his chance to make his F1 debut as he stood in for the injured Grosjean following the French driver’s horrifying accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

2021 – Haas VF-21

Haas reveal their 2021 Haas VF-21 Uralkali livery

2021 was all change for Haas, with Grosjean and Magnussen both out on their ears as the team openly courted drivers with money. Formula 2 Champion Mick Schumacher was signed thanks to his Ferrari ties, with the German bringing onboard some ‘minor’ sponsors of his own.

But it was Nikita Mazepin who Haas really wanted and needed – the Russian racer was able to bring on board his father Dmitry Mazepin’s Uralkali as a title sponsor – a Russian potash fertiliser company.

The livery was a strange amalgamation of the colour scheme of Uralkali, the Russian flag, and the American flag colours – red, white, and blue above a black base.

2022 – Haas VF-22

Never ones to have a drama-free title sponsor, Haas initially launched their 2022 car to reflect title sponsor Uralkali, triggering an investigation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) due to its striking similarity to a Russian flag – the flag of the nation having been banned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport due to Russian athletes being found guilty of doping.

Nikita Mazepin driving his Uralkali Haas VF-22 at pre-season testing in Spain

Haas carried out initial testing in Barcelona with the Uralkali livery, further drama was to follow as Russia began military operations in neighbouring Ukraine. With economic and sporting sanctions being placed on Russian companies, its oligarchs, and its athletes, Haas unceremoniously severed ties with their title sponsor before the next pre-season test in Bahrain.

Signing Kevin Magnussen to return in place of the ousted Mazepin, Haas showed up with a revised livery – gone were the blue accents that made the livery bear a striking resemblance to a Russian flag.

Haas' Mick Schumacher driving his 2022 VF-22 at pre-season testing in Bahrain.

2023 Haas VF-23

With a new title sponsor signed for 2023, expect Haas’ livery for the VF-23 to be tweaked yet again for this season.

But, luckily for the American squad, the corporate colours of MoneyGram are… red and white. This means a likely seamless unification of the traditional Haas colour scheme with the MoneyGram logos.

As is usual at this time of year, talented graphic designers are offering their own ideas on how the new MoneyGram Haas VF-23 may look when the livery is launched on January 31st – which is your favourite?