Haas F1 Team boss Guenther Steiner has said that the team’s big improvement from 2017 to 2018 did not come as a surprise, with Haas emerging as a top midfield runner.
Haas need just four points to double their 2017 points total at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi, having all but secured fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Sitting 24 points behind the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, the American outfit only hold an outside chance of taking a top four finish in the standings.
Last time out in Brazil, both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen scored points with eighth and ninth place finishes respectively; Haas recovering from a dreadful weekend in Mexico prior to that, where they could only manage sixteenth and fifteenth.
“It was good for the whole team to score double points, especially after the bad result in Mexico,” said Steiner.
“Hopefully, we can take this momentum into the last race and have a good result there, as well.”
While acknowledging that points totals are the clearest and most permanent form of evidence in terms of a team’s performance, Steiner believes that Haas should have more than double the 47 points they scored in their second season in Formula 1. The team lost two potentially big points finishes in Australia in a matter of laps after faulty pitstops on both Grosjean and Magnussen’s cars, when running in fourth and fifth.
“The points are always one thing that everyone can see what we do but, in theory, we should have more than double the points,” he added.
“Like every year, our target is to improve. The challenge was to improve from last year’s result. Racing’s challenges are different every weekend and are mainly driven by your competitor, how good they are.
“The challenge is always to beat the other ones, or as many as possible.”
In two out of the three years spent in Formula 1, Haas have had to adapt to major rule changes in terms of car design. The simplification of 2019 aero regulations brings yet another design challenge for the Kannapolis/Banbury-based team. Steiner believes that the challenge posed by this affects the design and aero departments the most but, while consistency makes it simpler, Haas are not in Formula 1 “to make life easy”.
“It’s more down to the design and aero people who have to adapt, but you plan for it and you do it,” he said.
“For sure, consistency sometimes makes it easier, but we’re not here to make life easy. We’re here to perform, and if you want to perform, you always work hard with the maximum of whatever regulations you are given.
There is never one key thing that you learn. You just grow as a team and get better by doing it. The only thing which helps is time.”
Haas’s main problem in 2016 and ’17 came in the form of reaching and maintaining the tyres in their optimal working window. Steiner said that improvement was expected, given the team’s ever-increasing experience.
“For sure, you should be better in year three than in year two, and we were,” Steiner continued. “It’s just experience.
“You learn, but by no means have we finished learning about the tyres. What works at one track may not work at another – not only because the compounds and tyres change, but also because the track surface changes.
“Even if we have the same tyres from one race to another, it doesn’t mean they perform the same because the track surface and temperatures are different. There are so many things that go along with this, so you will never have a perfect understanding, but you get better with every race.”
Given their strong technical partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, Haas have come under scrutiny and criticism from big figures in Formula 1. Steiner does not think that the Haas approach is “better” than other approaches, suggesting that it’s difficult to say whether it’s a right or wrong choice.
“I wouldn’t say our approach is better than the other setups, but it seems to be working for us.
“It’s difficult to prove it right or wrong because we cannot do things the typical way. For sure, it’s not hindering us from having good results.
“Development is all over the car. There is not one part being scrutinised more than another. The biggest gains you can make are with the new parts – the front wing and the brake ducts – especially in the beginning.
“Otherwise, you just focus on getting the best out of everything aerodynamically.”