Haas Steiner: There was doubt whether we could keep up and we’ve...

Haas Steiner: There was doubt whether we could keep up and we’ve shown that we are pretty solid

Guenther Steiner
photo: Haas

The Haas team had a really difficult time in the Italian Grand prix. Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the race but was later disqualified due to a technical infringement. Kevin Magnussen was way off the top 10. Guenther Steiner previews the next round in Singapore.

Haas F1 Team has had its drivers finish inside the top-10 in seven straight races (the team is counting the Italian Grand prix as the team is appealing the Monza disqualification). That’s a span covering a variety of tracks and conditions. What does that kind of consistency say about your drivers and your race team?

“We’ve shown that the car is good, the whole team is good and the drivers are good. We knew this from the beginning of the year, but we didn’t capitalize on it and didn’t get the points out of it that we should have. There was doubt from those outside of our team at the beginning of the year as to whether we could keep up this form, and we’ve shown that we are pretty solid. I think everybody’s doing a very good job.”

That consistency has allowed Haas F1 Team to truly fight for best-of-the-rest honours in Formula One. It’s a battle between you and Renault, as there’s a healthy margin back to the other teams. Considering this is only Haas F1 Team’s third year, is this kind of performance surpassing even your own expectations?

“I would say we are surpassing our own expectations a little bit because fighting with a works team like Renault, we didn’t think we could do that at any time, never mind in our third year. I think everybody can be pretty proud of that.”

Now that Haas F1 Team is outperforming some of the Formula One establishment, there seems to be some more scrutiny on Haas F1 Team. Is this coincidence, or is it to be expected when you’re regularly scoring points?

“I wouldn’t expect it, but sometimes people react this way. If they cannot beat you on the track, they try to beat you in court. That is what seems to be happening. You have to work hard to be envied. We’d rather work hard for it and fight even more.”

Is the competition that typically takes place on the racetrack spilling into paddock gamesmanship?

“Absolutely. Sometimes, you have to do that. You take any approach in racing. Is it the right thing to do? I’ll let others determine that.”

How do you tune out that gamesmanship and focus on what matters most – on-track performance?

“This doesn’t distract me. Our people know where they need to put the effort in. We don’t get distracted when we go racing. We try to always get good results in racing and leave the other stuff offline.”

Have recent events emboldened the team to where no stone will be left unturned as Haas F1 Team vies for fourth in the constructors’ standings?

“I would say this happens, but you don’t actively think about it or put any effort into thinking about it. It’s in the back of your mind and it motivates you more. It’s more like, ‘I don’t really care what you do. We’re still going to do a good job.’ Everybody on the team is going for a good spot, fighting for fourth. They are motivated. It’s not like I have to tell them or they have to be told. Everybody has that spirit already in them.”

Romain Grosjean
photo: Haas
Your drivers are performing well. In the case of Grosjean, he’s really come on after a difficult start to the beginning of his season. What has allowed for his surge in performance?

“If I would’ve known that, I would’ve made it happen earlier. I think he’s focusing really hard on it. He knows our expectations of him. Just by focusing and concentrating on what to do, I think that has helped him.”

Magnussen seems to be an ideal driver for Haas F1 Team as he doesn’t put up with any static from anyone. As a still young team, how important is it to have someone like that who isn’t afraid to mix it up with race winners and champions?

“He fits in very well. We try our best to think about what we do and we try to find the right people. It’s all across the team that we are not trying to find the big star out there and try and throw money at him. We try to find people with the right mentality who want to do this and take a risk coming to a new team, and we still have a lot of people we’ve had from day one and they like it here. They’ve been given a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity, and now they are having success. It’s the same for Kevin. This was a challenge with a new team in the second year when he came. It was an opportunity, as well, and he took the opportunity. Same with Romain, he came in at the beginning and, in the end, it worked out well. Gene Haas gives a lot of us opportunities and we take them on.”

The team had some trepidation heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the tight track didn’t play to the strengths of the VF-18, at least on paper. When the Hungarian Grand Prix was over, Haas F1 Team had another double-points finish. There was originally some trepidation about the Singapore Grand Prix because of its tight layout. Does that trepidation still exist?

“Like every race, I’m never overconfident before Friday, but I am confident we will have a good result. How good, we’ll need to see. Some cars are very specific on certain tracks. Our cars seem to be pretty good everywhere. We were very good in Austria. All the other ones, we were always there. I’m confident we’ll have a good result in Singapore. I’m not concerned. That’s the best way to explain it.”

What did you find that made your cars perform better on a slower, tighter track?

“We understand the car much better and our engineers can just set them up for each specific track. We are good everywhere.”

With the experience of Hungary and the collective experiences from this summer, what are your expectations for Singapore?

“For sure, we learn more every race we go to. Some lessons learned in Hungary will help us, but it’s a different aero package so it will be a little bit different. But the guys know, now, what to do to make the car work under normal circumstances.”

What are the challenges of the Marina Bay Street Circuit and how do you overcome them?

“I don’t think there are any specific technical challenges that are different to other places. You need to get your tires to work. The different thing is we practice during the day the first day and then we go into the night to practice, so the temperatures are different. It’s all stuff we know, but the main thing is to get a good balance and get the tires in the window and, normally, we are good.”