Rich Energy Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner hasn’t forgotten the double DNF from last year’s Australian Grand Prix and has made the team sure no repeat occurs at this year’s season opener by continually practicing pit stops over the winter break.
Haas will be entering their fourth season in the sport hoping to improve on their fifth place finish in the 2018 season. Haas welcomes new title sponsor Rich Energy, and the team will field the same driver line-up with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
Last year’s season opener saw the American team start the race on the third row, but their fairy tale start to the year came to a dramatic halt when both cars suffered a wheel nut failure during their pit stops.
Ahead of the first race of the season and a year on from the incident, Steiner says that the team hasn’t forgotten the circumstances and has ensured it doesn’t happen again.
“We obviously haven’t forgotten last year’s pit stops in Australia, which went wrong. This year we’ve put a lot of emphasis on arriving there prepared,” said Steiner.
“We brought a 2018 car to our car build in Italy so we could train every day and work on pit stops. We did the same in Barcelona, as the current car is not always available for pit stop practice when you test. Every day the whole crew practiced around 10 to 12 pit stops a day.”
Haas’ winter testing programme saw the team be among one of the midfield teams, but the American team has suffered some of its hiccups during the eight days of testing.
Steiner said that the team only suffered a ‘few small’ problems and should be addressed ahead of the first race in Australia.
“The test, in general, was good. We had a few small problems, which we can address before Australia. Obviously, we test to find these problems and, hopefully, we’ve found them all.
“Performance-wise, it’s too early to say how we’ll go in Australia. We have to wait until we go into qualifying on Saturday.”
The 2019 Formula 1 Season sees a number of changes on the cars relating to the aerodynamics on the front and rear wings, in a bid to improve overtaking.
The opening races will see whether the changes will work and will be hard to judge at the first race alone, due to the difficult nature of the street circuit.
“The aim of the regulation change was to make passing easier, but the proof is in the pudding. We’ll only really see after three or four races how it works out,” added Steiner.
“Australia, in general, is a very difficult track to pass at – probably one of the most difficult ones. If it doesn’t work there, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that it will not work for the whole year.
“We need to see if it works or not, and you only really find these things out in race situations.”