The Uralkali Haas F1 Team come into the new season with an all-new, all-rookie line-up, and Team Principal Guenther Steiner says there are modest targets for 2021 with their main focus the development of their 2022 machine.
Out have gone both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, with 2020 FIA Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher and Russian racer Nikita Mazepin coming in to replace them.
Steiner says that whilst their focus will be on 2022, Haas will be doing their best to keep their motivation across what is expected to be the longest Formula 1 season in history, with twenty-three races planned between March and December.
“I think we’ve got a few things to keep us motivated through the year,” said Steiner. “We’ve got two young drivers that we need to develop, and we will develop over the year. That will come with some excitement, I’m sure of that.
“Then the light at the end of the tunnel is 2022 where we will be back at our full strength because we regrouped last year and we made a step back to make two forward. For sure, some things will be challenging – also personally to keep on pushing, but I think we can do this.
“In the end, it’s all in nine months, but it’s 23 races. We are prepared for it and we’ll get it done.”
Haas are hoping an updated power unit from Scuderia Ferrari will help them in 2021 after it was obviously underpowered compared to their rivals last year. It meant Haas were unable to better ninth in the Constructors’ Championship with only three points scored all year.
“For us it’s very difficult to have a back-to-back with the power unit from last year,” said Steiner. “But I fully trust Ferrari in what they are saying to us as well as what they’re doing.
“We can see on their car that it’s better. For us, our testing was mainly focused on getting the two rookies as many laps as possible. We couldn’t really do back-to-back as Mick, for example, was only in last year’s car for one full day after Abu Dhabi, and Nikita only drove a Haas F1 car for the first time on our shakedown in Bahrain this year.
“I fully trust in Ferrari and I’m sure that the power unit is more powerful.”
“We are realistic, and points will be hard to come by”
Steiner says points are likely to be hard to come by in 2021, but their main targets are to get the two drivers up to speed and experienced enough ready for 2022 and beyond.
“I would hope that our two drivers have learned as much as possible and maybe even more than that in order to get ready for next year,” said Steiner of his hopes for the upcoming season. “If we can get a point or two at some stage – that would be a fantastic result.
“But we are realistic, and points will be hard to come by. As long as we learn, we improve, and can get back to where we were in the past – I’m happy. It’s going to be a hard climb this season, but we will get something good out of it, we always do.”
Steiner admits he did not like the way the 2020 calendar was put together, but he is hopeful that they will have more of a normal season this year with races that were meant to be on the schedule from the beginning.
“To be honest, I didn’t like last year’s calendar, at least I didn’t like the reason why it came to be due to the pandemic,” he said. “There was a little bit of excitement though visiting new places or going to places we hadn’t been in a long time.
“Now it appears to be more of a normal year, not completely though. Imola as the second race for example, normally that wouldn’t be there, but it came back last year.
“It’s good but hopefully the pandemic settles down or goes away completely soon and we go back to things being very normal. Normality, at the moment, is not being normal.”