The Haas team moved to the fifth position in the 2018 Formula 1 constructors’ standings. Now Guenther Steiner previews the 11th round of the championship – the German Grand prix.
After three straight races, how did the team, in terms of personnel, hold up?
“We can’t forget that our team also had an additional test after Silverstone, so they’ve had three-and-a-half weekends of racing. They just finished on Wednesday with the Pirelli test at Silverstone. I’m sure everyone was tired, but the good thing is we scored good points over the three events. That makes the pain of having three events a lot easier. It’s something I personally feel is tiring. You cannot breathe between races because you have to keep on going and going. When you do try to relax, you know that you’ve been working three weeks in a row, and the same goes for the team. I hope they can recover and be fresh again for Hockenheim.”
In just its third year, Haas F1 Team is consistently fighting for best-of-rest status behind Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Considering the history and resources available to other midfield teams, what does this achievement say about Haas F1 Team and its potential?
“I think we proved that it is possible to start a team from new and be competitive in the midfield. Obviously, we are very conscious that we cannot compete with the big three, but I think it’s testimony to a good plan and good people.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 17, 2018
If you were told back at preseason testing in Barcelona that Haas F1 Team would enter the halfway mark of the season fifth in the constructors’ standings, what would’ve been your reaction?
“After testing, we were cautiously optimistic that could be achieved, but it’s still a difficult task as all the other teams in Formula One are very good teams – there is nobody who is uncompetitive. There is not really a midfield anymore. It’s just the rest. There’s the top-three and then the rest. Everybody from fourth to 10th can be competing for points this year, as we’ve all seen. Now, being fifth, it’s nice to be there. After testing it was realistic to think we could be there, but we were very conscious that it would be hard work, and it is hard work, actually.”
Now that Haas F1 Team is fifth in the constructors’ standings, what is possible for the second half of this season?
“I think with the potential of the car we have shown over the last three races, it is possible to aim for fourth. If we achieve it or not, that’s a different question. I don’t want to be arrogant and say we will finish fourth because by no means is it a given. We are competing with three very strong teams for this position. We will try, we will give it our best and, hopefully, we end up fourth.”
Much was made about the unprecedented run of three straight races, but it was a stretch of races that worked pretty well for the team with a haul of 32 points across the French, Austrian and British Grands Prix? How satisfying was that run of three straight point-paying finishes?
“I would say it is satisfying, but it isn’t. We could have had a lot more points, and we missed out on them. We need to make sure that we are not keeping on missing points because these are the points we will miss at the end to finish fourth.”
Can the pace and performance you had in France, Austria and England continue in Germany, or will the Hockenheimring’s array of tight corners prove slightly troublesome?
“We are a little bit worried about the tight sector of Hockenheim, as it’s very slow. Then again, we will work on it to do our best. For sure, the car is more competitive on high-speed corners. It’s actually very competitive on high-speed corners. We’ve had some issues on the slow-speed tracks. Let’s see what we can do on Friday to set the car up to get over our deficiencies on the low-speed portions. Maybe we’ll find a little bit of speed there and still be competitive.”
Haas F1 Team introduced significant upgrades to the Haas VF-18 in Canada, and while you felt there was promise after competing in the Canadian Grand Prix, it wasn’t really seen until we got to the power circuits of Paul Ricard, the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone. What makes the Haas VF-18 better at those tracks compared to tracks that are more compact with tight corners?
“It’s just the aero specification we’re running. The majority of the racetracks are not low speed, so our aero people didn’t focus too much on that one, but more on the tracks where the majority of the races are held. Aerodynamically, the car is better on high-speed corners.”
The Hockenheimring is a track where fuel consumption is high. Is there anything you have to do during the race to ensure your drivers have enough fuel to finish the race?
“Yes, we have to do some lift-and-coast, but everyone is in the same boat. Now, that’s something you sometimes have to do anyway to save a little bit with your tires. But on these high-power circuits, we do have to do some lift-and-coast. All four engine manufacturers are very similar in this regard, so it’s nothing special, but it’s still something we need to look after.”
Fuel levels are set to increase in 2019, from the current allotment of 105 kilograms (27.3 gallons) to 110 kilograms (28.6 gallons) in order for drivers to use the full power of their car’s engine at all times. What can a driver do with those five extra kilograms (1.3 gallons) of fuel? Does it give them the freedom to push as hard as they want, whenever they want?
“On a lot of the circuits, yes, the drivers can push as hard as they want because they have more than enough fuel to go the distance. But on some other circuits, there is still some lift-and-coast, and lift-and-coast is sometimes done for other reasons, not only for fuel consumption. Sometimes, it’s to save your brakes or to save your tires. But in theory, most of the tracks with a 110-kilogram limit allow you to be wide open for the whole race. It does add some strategy to the race, as you can either go wide open or save tires and whatever suits you or your car better, then that’s the choice you make.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 16, 2018
You’ve competed at the Hockenheimring and the Nurburgring in your Formula One career. Do you like one over the other, or do they both have characteristics you enjoy?
“I think they’re both very nice. Nurburgring is normally very particular because they’ve got a good fan base there, a very loyal motorsport fan base. Of course, Hockenheim, in the old days, in the Schumacher days, it was a very big event. It’s always a great event.”