Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner likens competing against the other nine Formula 1 teams as “going into a gunfight with a knife” and believes that the team’s model needs to change moving forward.
Gene Haas opted to replace Steiner with Ayao Komatsu over the winter, citing the poor results that led to the team finishing 10th in the constructors’ championship last year. While Steiner said he understands why the performances were not deemed as being satisfactory, he says the way Formula 1 has evolved meant Haas needs further investment to keep it with its rivals.
“It wasn’t going well last year, I knew that, I’m not ignorant,” Steiner told RACER. “But also from my side, what can I do to improve matters? Everybody knows what the other teams have been investing far more heavily, and we were going into a gunfight with a knife.
“F1 has changed over the past five years and it’s all going in one direction with this budget cap. People ask ‘Are you at the budget cap?’ but that doesn’t mean anything anymore. You need to be at the budget cap in CapEx (capital expenditure) and OpEx (operating expense) now, because you need to make CapEx investments to bring your OpEx down so you are efficient. That’s the only way to do it.
“This model was fantastic 10 years ago; now it is not anymore. It needs to change.”
When pushed on what he’d do at Haas if he was given freedom to make whatever changes he deems necessary, Steiner said the rest of the grid shows the direction the team now needs to take.
“I would go down the model that all the other teams are doing,” he said. “I don’t need to say any more, because everyone else is doing it. You would need to invest in infrastructure to get the best out of your OpEx cost cap money, it’s very simple. You just need to do what the other teams are doing, because everybody’s doing it.
“Like you change the car concept, when all teams need to go in one direction, you also need to do it with team structure. And you need to put investment in, because there is no weak team out there anymore.”
Steiner believes the employees at Haas do not get enough credit for the job they’ve been doing given the team’s current set-up, having reached Q3 a total of 11 times between Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.
“I think what Haas achieved last year, obviously finishing 10th is no good, but it was actually an achievement going through to Q3 more than a few times,” he said. “Now, knowing how much of a disparity there is within the infrastructure, it is quite an achievement by the team. And that’s not down to me, that’s down to the team – it shows how good they are.”