Haas’ Guenther Steiner: “We surprised a little bit with our performance”

Haas should be aiming to replicate Romain Grosjean's Australian GP pace all year, according to Guenther Steiner - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Guenther Steiner remains optimistic that the Haas F1 Team has a car to be in points contention in every race this year despite a double retirement in the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

The optimism stems from the pace of Romain Grosjean during the weekend at Albert Park that saw the Frenchman qualify an excellent sixth and run seventh before a water leak curtailed his afternoon, while despite not having the same luck as his team-mate, Kevin Magnussen also showed good speed at times during the weekend.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Team Principal Steiner. “We need to still prove that our performance wasn’t a one-off. It’s very tight in the midfield. On a good day, you could be on top, but on a bad day, you could be at the back. The other midfield teams have shown that this can happen.

“I think we surprised a little bit with our performance, especially Romain qualifying sixth with his lap, which was four-tenths faster than [Felipe] Massa’s. That’s pretty good.”

Despite the double retirement in Australia, Steiner feels it is easier to make fast engines reliable than it is to make a reliable engine fast, and there is optimism that they can show a good turn of speed in China.

“If you’ve got speed, you can get reliability,” said Steiner. “It’s not good not to have it in the beginning, but not to have speed would be much more difficult to fix than the reliability.”

Steiner admitted that while they were hoping to advance to Q3 in Australia, it was not a foregone conclusion, especially with a number of teams in the midfield being of similar pace, and it is not a guarantee that this will be possible in every round for the same reason.

“We were hoping to get into Q3, but we weren’t sure because it’s so tight in the midfield,” said Steiner. “Then to be sixth, with this distance to our next competitor, four-tenths, it surprised us.

“Obviously, we need to keep it up, or we need to try to do it again, to prove that this is where we should be. It will be difficult to keep that pace, or that distance, or even get into Q3 all the time because it’s very competitive.”