Guenther Steiner has admitted that the Haas F1 Team were too late in identifying its problems with its VF-19, and when they began to get on top of them, the decision was made to turn their focus on their 2020 machine.
Haas came into 2019 with an unchanged driver line-up after an impress 2018 that had seen them finish fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, and in pre-season testing and the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the pace of the VF-19 appeared to be good.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen qualified sixth and seventh at Albert Park, with the latter going on to claim an excellent sixth place finish, but it was to be a rogue result, with car issues hampering them throughout the season.
Steiner says the Bahrain Grand Prix, the second race of the season, was the first time that Haas realised they had problems managing their Pirelli tyres, but they went down the wrong route of trying to solve the issues, not realising it was an aerodynamic problem that was causing the majority of the issues.
“That’s the first time it came to light that something isn’t right and we found we could not manage the tyres,” Steiner is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Then we tried to work with the tyre, tried to influence the tyre from the outside instead of going down to see if we had an aero problem, because the car was good in qualifying.
“Barcelona again we weren’t sure if it worked or not, but when you get a good result you believe in it. Maybe by having these good results in the beginning we were a little bit blindsided because having come off a season like 2018 which was very good, also maybe we were a little bit overconfident, we just know it now.
“Not knowing where you are, you don’t react properly and once you really understand what it is – which was summer break time – it’s too late. After the summer break you don’t think of the racetrack anymore, we were just too far off. So it was better to go back and focus on 2020.”
Haas ‘believed the Results more than the Data and the Drivers’ – Steiner
Steiner admits that they should have looked at the data and listened to the drivers more rather than believe in the results should the same scenario happen again, with the Spanish Grand Prix result in particular being highlighted.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean scored points at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya despite a clash between the two that cost the latter a couple of places, but ultimately the car was found to be good at just that track rather than every circuit, as they had hoped it would be.
“There [in Spain] the result was good,” said Steiner. “We saw it again in qualifying, but not in the race because in the race we saw we had [a crash]. So we didn’t figure out in the race what happened, but the car in Barcelona could have been strong.
“So maybe in Barcelona we believed a little bit too much that the car is good everywhere. This car was good in Barcelona specifically. So at the time the drivers said this is good.
“We were into Q3 and I think we qualified sixth or seventh there, pretty good. So how can we say this is not good? One of these things we thought was maybe little bit blinded by the 2018 result.
“With hindsight it’s easy to say I would react differently to what happened in Barcelona. I would say, ‘guys, you need to get together here, something doesn’t stack up’. We believed the results more than the data and the drivers.
“So, we believed the easy bit and the nice bit to believe, which was the result – not the reality which was not charming. Something is up here. The guys are not happy, ‘but the result is good’. ‘OK’, but they have a good reactionary budget.”