Why Haas F1 Team Plans to Remain a Customer Team in 2026
Formula 1 will have six power unit manufacturers in 2026 when new regulations are introduced.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Alpine will continue to operate their respective works teams.
Haas has had a close relationship with Ferrari since joining Formula 1 in 2016, taking the manufacturer’s power unit, gearbox and some other components.
Haas F1 team principal boss Guenther Steiner says his squad is content to remain a customer team when Formula 1 introduces new power unit regulations in 2026.
Formula 1 will have six power unit manufacturers in 2026 when new regulations are introduced. That will give the series its highest number of such manufacturers since the 2008 season, after which a couple withdrew due to the financial crisis.
It means that as it stands—keeping in mind the potential of new teams joining for 2025 or 2026—there will be more de facto works teams on the grid than customer teams.
Aston Martin will link up with Honda, Audi is entering following an eventual takeover of Sauber (which currently competes as Alfa Romeo), while Ford will align with Red Bull Powertrains to supply Red Bull Racing.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Alpine will continue to operate their respective works teams. That ostensibly leaves just McLaren, Williams, Haas and AlphaTauri (which has shared synergies with parent company Red Bull/Red Bull Powertrains) as customer teams.
A works deal allows for greater integration between chassis and power unit and more control over production of components. Of course, a works deal can also have weak points in terms of corporate-level decisions and long-term manufacturer uncertainty.
Haas has had a close relationship with Ferrari since joining Formula 1 in 2016, taking the manufacturer’s power unit, gearbox and some other components permitted under the regulations.
Speaking ahead of the this weekend's F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Steiner said: “You need to look into where do you want to be in five to 10 years.
“I think at the moment we are all overthinking what is coming in ’26. I think there will be solutions to it because not everybody can have a works team, because for ’26 for sure there is only six engine manufacturers. So, four teams will need to take a customer engine. We will be one of them for ’26, but looking forward you also need to see where Formula 1 is going.
“I don’t want to sound negative, but manufacturers come and go, teams stay. So we need to think of that as well. I don’t want to say ‘We need to be a manufacturer in five years.’ It could also be that maybe we are happy not to be a manufacturer in five years, that is out there as well. So let’s see what time brings, but for the moment we are ready for ’26. We will go with a customer engine and we will make the best out of it.”
Steiner pointed to Aston Martin’s current predicament as evidence that being a customer team is not a barrier to success. Aston Martin is a Mercedes customer—taking Mercedes’ engines and gearbox—and is currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, ahead of Mercedes.
“There’s a good chance a customer team can do better than a works team like is happening right now and we have the proof of it, it’s not something I’ve dreamt up,” Steiner said. “And also in 2026 there are six engine manufacturers. How do you know that all will do the same good job? There could be two or three that do a worse job, and if you are with the right manufacturer you are in front of the other ones. So there are pros as well to being a customer.
“If you go out there and make your own engine and the engine is not good, what have you achieved then? So I think only the future will tell. We can dream up a lot of scenarios that could or should happen, but the fact is that at the moment a customer team is beating a works team, and not a bad works team by the way!”
Haas is this weekend commemorating its 150th Grand Prix since entering Formula 1.
“We are the youngest team and we are still here and I think we are getting stronger,” said Steiner. “I think that’s the most outstanding thing. Moments, obviously our pole last year is something that stands out as a high, finishing fifth (in the championship) in 2018 stands out, but it’s a roller coaster.”