Guenther Steiner believes that spending significant amounts of money on Haas’ 2021 car would be a very unwise decision.
Haas got off to a very disheartening start in Bahrain last weekend. Its two drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin comprised the bottom two places on the timing sheets for qualifying, with Schumacher, the fastest of the two, setting a lap-time four-tenths of a second off 18th-placed Sebastian Vettel’s lap. The Grand Prix the following day delivered further dismay to the American team, with Nikita Mazepin crashing out on lap 1 and Mick Schumacher coming home as the last car on the track to finish.
While Haas is looking to be in for a tough season, team principal Guenther Steiner already suspected this and thinks that draining the team’s funds in order to improve this year’s car is a foolish concept. He believes that the better option is to hold out and save their expenditures for next season’s major regulation changes.
“The only development we did was to adapt to the rules for this year so you cannot expect the car to get any better,” Steiner explains. “With the rule change, the car actually got worse as we took downforce away so it’s a case of how little can you do?
“On the car, I was always very outspoken because the car is what it is this year. When we started the development in November last year we knew we couldn’t catch up. Why would you waste [money]?
“The car was bad in ’19, it didn’t get a lot better in ’20 and all of a sudden we invest a year of development in a car that’s only going to do 23 races? I mean that would be complete madness in my opinion.
“So as everyone knows we need to limit this [spending] but you always try to get the best out of [the car]. You don’t say, ‘I don’t want more’.”
There may not be any significant alterations to the Haas VF-21 this year, but the team will be implementing a small number of new components for round 2 at Imola, Italy that weren’t able to be fitted to the car before Bahrain. However, Haas decided that no further upgrades to the car will be introduced for the remainder of the 2021 season.
“We get parts somehow for the car for Imola, because we couldn’t get them ready for [Bahrain] so we did what we could,” said Steiner.
“At some stage, you ask – if you put a big investment in, are we going to be sixth? No. Are we going to be seventh? No. The best we could aim for was eighth and then it’s a case of, is it really worth to invest your future in the next six months and lose sight of the next five years? No.
“For me, yes we’ll be [at the] back this year, but next year hopefully we can – or the aim is to – get back to where we were in ’18 (when they finished fifth in the standings), not where we were in ’19 or ’20 (when they settled for ninth two years in a row).”