Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 must extend factory shutdown again – Steiner

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 must extend its factory shutdown further to protect smaller teams, says Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

The shutdown period, which was extended to 35 days earlier this week, needs to run until a few weeks before the first race, Steiner believes. The season’s current starting point is the French Grand Prix on June 28th.

Asked by whether F1 teams should be forced to keep their factories closed for even longer, Steiner said: “Absolutely, the shutdown should be extended further.

“You need to understand: If teams don‘t race they don’t have an income. Our sponsors are understandably not motivated to sponsor us if we don‘t race. Thus if no money flows inwards, then we should not spend money either.

“That’s why I believe the shutdown should be extended. We will only know when we hold the first race whether there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are dependent upon races, we cannot develop [cars] for three months and not have income. Some teams may manage it, but all small teams are united that it is impossible [for us].”

Factories should be opened “four to six weeks” before the first race, said Steiner. “Three weeks should suffice, but after the factories have been closed for a while it is better to have at least a month [to prepare].”

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Haas’s development work takes place at three sites – Banbury, Dallara and Ferrari – which complicates the effect the shutdown has on their operation. “We are trying to find a solution via government support programmes to get us through this period,” said Steiner.

The uncertainty over when the championship will resume is adding to the pressure on his team.

“When we have no income are unable to approach our sponsors for more money. They receive less [benefits] and ask, ‘Why should we pay you more money?‘ We also cannot approach our teams owners for more money, that is not good management. So we are into crisis management.

“The difficulty is how do you position yourself? We don’t know how many races we’ll have, and thus don’t know what our income will be. That makes it difficult to produce a budget, as we don’t where the journey is heading. We have various scenarios and are trying to do the best we can.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 8 comments on “F1 must extend factory shutdown again – Steiner”

    1. A sensible proposal to avoid any incentive anyone might have to push some development spend with the bigger teams right now.

      1. It is the last season that anyone can “buy a win” though, so I’m sure some will try. It does makes sense to close everything until the we have a confirmed start date, obviously with some lead in time.

    2. It is a desperate time for us all and people’s priorities are fundamentally changing. I don’t agree with the gloom mongers but Haas are in a difficult position.

      Despite some sporadic decent placings, their car and drivers have underperformed and it would appear from various sources that Gene is not committed to pouring more millions into a project that is, even before Covid-19, unlikely to yield the results he expected.

      F1 with 20 cars, with only 5 or 6 potential winners at present doesn’t make for the most thrilling spectacle but the sport cannot afford to lose any teams.

      Of course, the bigger teams could field a third car but that would make a nonsense of a budget cap.

    3. Frankly I’m sickened at the prospect of F1 teams being given bail outs by their governments. Here’s another case of privatise the profits and nationalise the loses.

      Nobody in government could care less when normal people were struggling to make ends meet. I know in the UK that the support is limited to 80% of £2500 per month, but it should be limited to people who normally earn “normal” wages. No one in F1 has any idea what a normal wage is.

      I wonder how friendly the IRS will be to Gene Haas in the USA if he asks for support.

      1. I agree to a certain extent. There should be a priority that said private companies like f1 teams do contribute. My worry is that govs want an excuse to divert money into their own ventures and strike deals to finance these subsidies in order to further squeeze money out of the tax payer. Ursula has already proposed a 100 billion loan for Europe, hopefully Britain is not in it, it should be a good loan but nevertheless the money is not going to go to those who end up paying the loan.

        1. @peartree If it’s for “Europe”, then Britain almost certainly won’t be in it for ideological reasons – assuming its absence from the EU didn’t disqualify it in the first place. I don’t think you need to worry about that one.

    4. Our sponsors are understandably not motivated to sponsor us if we don‘t race.

      Currently F1 is putting their sim-races onto Youtube and are free to watch. The Melbourne GP has so far attracted 1.7M views. Normally F1 races aren’t free and they aren’t on Youtube.
      I don’t know what Haas can do to promote their image more … but maybe one or both of their main drivers could be involved in the next sim race. Of course, I’m not sure what Guenther is supposed to do if Pietro Fittipaldi and Louis Deletraz are better than them?

    5. @drycrust you make a very good point however the youtube opportunity doesn’t involve their factories.

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