Guenther Steiner: “We will always chase the midfield this year”


Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Guenther Steiner is looking forward to Haas F1 Team’s second Bahrain Grand Prix as last year it was the venue of their best ever race result; Romain Grosjean finished fifth in only their second ever race.

That was one better than at the previous race, a sixth in Australia, which despite being an impressive start to the season and to their “being”, was made less impressive by the implication that it was more luck than performance. But Bahrain didn’t have a red flag, and so Steiner views the result as solely achieved through their ability and not gifted by the misfortune of others.

Absolutely,” he said. “Last year, coming away from Australia, a lot of people said it was a strategy call which we got lucky with the red flag.

“We got lucky, but the car showed some speed, and it was proven in Bahrain where there were no lucky circumstances and we finished fifth. It was good to have this at the beginning of the year.

“To get there, our people worked day and night, really hard. I don’t know how they did it looking back at it. It was a magnificent moment.”

Tyre compounds this weekend will be identical to those in China. But due to Bahrain’s increased temperature, any data gathered during previous runs will have very little application in the desert.

“I wouldn’t say so because while we’ve got the same tires, the circumstances are different,” he continued. “The temperature will be a lot different.

“China was much colder than Bahrain will be, where the temperature is meant to be near 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

“We will learn a lot about the tires. It’s for sure useful, but I wouldn’t say what we learned in China, or what we learned in Melbourne, will specifically give us an advantage in Bahrain.”

Bahrain is very generous in its run off areas, and Steiner views this as a perfect opportunity for pushing the car to its limit. However, he airs that caution should still be at the forefront of the drivers’ mind as a misjudgment can still prove costly in both time and finances.

If you know you can run off without damaging the car, or hurting yourself, you take the chance and you try it, at least,” he said. “I think we will see in the free practices people trying how far they can push it. Nothing will happen. They will just run off.

“In some ways, it’s a good thing. In others, it’s not so good because while you can learn how far you can go, you pay a big price for it if your judgement is wrong.

“It’s all pros and cons, but that makes it interesting. It’s never the same. Every weekend is different.”

The hot and dry climate in Bahrain will be completely different to those seen before during the first two races. Many teams are expecting major updates to be available in Barcelona, and it is at the Spanish Grand Prix that Steiner believes a true pecking order will finally be observed. But in the meantime, as new parts trickle in, there will still be room to manoeuvre, even if any change is likely to be either too small to make a significant dent or will be short-lived.

The picture will get clearer by Barcelona, but what comes next are all the updates teams will bring in,” he continued. “How often updates come in and how effective they are will continue to mix things up.

“We will always chase the midfield this year – who is best and who is last.

“The updates this year should be significant. We have a very immature car because the development time was not long. We will get a clearer picture, but it won’t be definitive.

He went on to explain the update process, and how they are decided by your progress at the factory and are not influenced by the competition. The larger teams may have the benefit of a bigger workforce, but Haas at least work to the schedule that they have agreed in advance. Afterall, every new piece needs designing, testing and manufacturing; it is hardly an overnight process.

Releases are normally decided by the gains you make in the wind tunnel,” he added. “You don’t react to other people when they bring them.

“You keep to your schedule because, first you have to develop it, then you have to design the parts, and then you have to manufacture them. We have set our schedule out already until the middle of the year – what and how much we bring. We wouldn’t change it dramatically.

“You can always make small adjustments, but you cannot change your principle of how you plan to do this. This is the same for all the other teams, except for the three big ones which could bring updates at any time because their capacity is so much bigger in design and manufacturing.”

Haas will be hoping to replicate their points finish in Shanghai but with both cars finishing in the top ten this weekend.