Romain Grosjean, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Budget cap key to Haas committing to Formula 1 – Steiner

2020 F1 season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says they have committed to remaining in Formula 1 because they expect the budget cap will create a more level playing field.

The team’s future in the sport had been in question due to owner Gene Haas’s publicly-stated concerns over their performance since entering the championship in 2016. Last month driver Romain Grosjean referred to doubt over whether the team would remain in F1 as the “elephant in the room”.

However Haas joined F1’s other nine teams in committing to the sport by signing the new Concorde Agreement which sets down the commercial arrangement between them, the championship and its governing body. The signing of the new agreement was announced last week.

“I guess Gene looked at it and Formula 1 is still a very good tool for getting his brand name, Haas Automation, out in the world,” said Steiner. “It works – otherwise he wouldn’t be doing it.

“He loves the sport as well. Even if it is a big financial commitment, with the new regulations coming in it should make the playing field more even and the commercial aspects better for the smaller teams so as a result he has decided to continue.

“For me it means, even at the moment when we’re not running competitively, we’ve got a Formula 1 team which works and that’s more down to the team than to me. I’m part of the team though, we all work together, and in the end, Gene believes in the team. Everybody is, for sure, happy to be moving forward now with the agreement signed.”

Steiner is optimistic the changes to the sport’s financial arrangements, which includes a fairer distribution of prize money between competitors and the introduction of a budget cap, will gradually reduce the disparity between the top teams and smaller outfits like Haas.

“The budget cap should level the playing field, it will level the playing field,” said Steiner. “Maybe not in the first year, but in the mid-term for sure. The payments, to make it more equal, will also mean the smaller teams get a little more revenue.

“It’s never enough for the small teams, by the way, but it levels the field and that should be the aim of a sport – any day, anybody can win. It’ll take a while until that happens but for Formula 1 it’s a big step in the right direction.

“Times change and I think Liberty did a great job in adapting to those times and making changes when it was needed. It was needed a few years ago, but it’s better late than never.”

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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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  • 22 comments on “Budget cap key to Haas committing to Formula 1 – Steiner”

    1. Would it really “level the playing field” for Haas though? With their approach and “talent” they would still be in the C-tier of F1.

      I guess the thing is more that they can even further reduce the budget and the money from FOM will then mostly cover the expenses. So then why not participate if it’s practically free.

      1. The budget cap is not an automatic leveler of the field. Know how is still king or it will take many years for the disparity in performance amongst the teams to level off.

        1. My point was more that I fear that C-tier teams will remain C-tier by just spending even less money after the budget cap.

          Still, I dont see that as an issue so much, since we also need the “also-rans” to give places for the new talent to get experience in the piece and quiet of a small team.

    2. The problem I have is this line:

      “any day, anybody can win”

      I don’t want the sport to be a lottery spec series, that’s not why I watch F1 and is the reason why I have no interest in Indycar or other spec series. I don’t mean to belittle spec series as I appreciate they offer a more level playing field for drivers but F1 has always been about the constructors as much as the drivers.

      I do think the sport needs to control the spending to stop teams buying success but not to the point they set a budget that all can easily obtain just for participating. A win in F1 should be for the best package on the day and that package shouldn’t be the best driver who picked the best suspension setup and tyres in a spec car otherwise the DNA of the sport is truly gone. Maybe Haas is in the wrong sport if he doesn’t want to build his own cars.

      1. @slowmo Actually if you check spec series like IndyCar and F2, how many teams are actually winning most races and especially championships? It’s only 2 or 3 as well.

        In IndyCar is’t usually the Chip Ganassi or Penske cars winning. In F2 it’s usually ART, DAMS or Prema

        1. @F1oSaurus is that because they have the best drivers though? I do appreciate that constructors can make a difference in spec series but for things like F2 it can be offset by having the budget to run more private tests to optimise what they have. As I said though, I don’t watch them as they offer little interest for me so I’d love to hear peoples thoughts on what makes the difference in spec series most.

          1. Those teams hire the most talented people and are better at every aspect of the game. They have a better driver, better mechanics and engineers that can setup the car better and are capable of understanding what needs to change with the car from the feedback of the drivers.
            They are better at assessing people’s skill, and hire more skilled people.

            In the end talent gets concentrated in the same place.

          2. @slowmo Yeah I guess technically they are not “constructors”, but clearly teams and budgets matter. You can actually see differences between cars, because not always do both cars get the same budget/support level.

            And sure there will be a ton of reasons for that, but they will be largely the same reasons as apply for F1.

            Hard to quantify though. How much of the quality of the car reflects back on the skills of Hamilton to direct the engineers to deliver the best car? Or Schumacher and Senna. While Red Bull and Ferrari have not been able to improve their car as much. Or when they do (like Ferrari did in 2017, 2018 and 2019) the driver throws it all away.

            So in F1 it’s also not just about the car, but also very much about about the “best” driver in the broadest sense of the word.

            Either way, whatever the reasons, the end result in a spec series is not that different from F1 where also 2 or 3 teams tend to compete for the wins and the championship.

            1. Yeah I guess teams would be a more accurate term.

          3. @slowmo in terms of facilities and resources, Penske, Ganassi and Andretti, who have been the three teams dominating IndyCar for the past two decades, have a fairly significant advantage over their rivals. Some have also suggested dampers as being a performance differentiator, and in that respect Penske also has a built in advantage given they are a manufacturer of dampers.

      2. I love comments like this. “I don’t like spec series. I don’t watch them…”
        Righto, so how do you even know what it is that you are comparing F1 to?

        Even in a spec series (or a BoP controlled series) it still always comes down to the the winning team being the team who performed best on the day – given all the variables and conditions that every competitor was faced with. Strategy, driving skill, luck, conservation, consistency, adaptability…. These are all things that the winning team needs to get right – or at least more right than all their competitors.
        The difference with F1 is that on top of all those factors, the team creates the car too. And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your personal preference) that sets the tone for the entire season before winter testing has even started.

        Not saying F1 is better, nor worse – just different. But it is becoming more spec with every rule change.

        1. Please don’t take my statement as literal. I personally think it’s insulting to say I watch a spec series if I watch the odd round here or there, that’s not watching the series as you have no reference if you don’t watch all or the majority of races. Someone who watches one or two F1 races of course “watches” the races but they likely miss all the detailed nuances. I do not find spec series exciting to watch frequently and that’s just my personal opinion which is why I did stipulate that my view was biased in that way. It was my opinion not a statement of fact. I don’t
          “watch” golf but I’ll watch the Ryder cup. I don’t “watch” Athletics but I watch the Olympics. I don’t “watch” Rubgy but watch the Six Nations/World Cup. My point is of course I’ve watched some bits of spec series but they’ve never enticed me to stay watching.

          I can promise you though that the day F1 is a spec series I will not follow it anymore. Part of my passion for F1 is seeing the variance in ideas and how despite 10 teams all designing something independently they all end up within a couple of % of each other. Part of the story of the season is the evolution of the car design and the different performances depending on tracks, conditions, etc.

          I’ll pin my colours to the mast and say I enjoy F1 more than any other motorsport quite happily.

          1. Yep, fair enough. I understand what you mean.
            It’s almost pointless watching a racing series only on one-off occasions, because, as you say, it’s impossible to not miss too much of the context.
            What I would say though, is that if the racing is good it does entice more people to watch more often – an aspect where F1 really struggles, as the racing on the track at the front of the pack is rubbish.

            How do you define exactly when F1 has become a spec series?
            I don’t think there will be a definable day when F1 ‘goes spec’ – it is taking a slow and gradual progression until such time that it will be so close that it doesn’t even matter anymore.
            It’s already vastly more ‘spec’ than it was 10, 20 years ago.

            1. How do you define exactly when F1 has become a spec series?

              I suppose when every car is the same tub and aero that they just bolt an engine and gearbox onto will be one example where I think it would have crossed a line. I’m not sure I’d be happy with a standard tub but run your own aero packages either tbh. At it’s core, the teams should be designing and building their own car and I’m hopeful that Liberty/FIA still agree at the moment although the listed/unlisted parts stuff is depressing.

              I actually think the issue of the end of F1 will be sorted by the rise of electric technology but that’s a whole other debate.

      3. @slowmo There’s a difference between having a pot luck winner Maldonado-style and giving everyone the opportunity to fight for wins. It’s a key part of sports, probably done best in American sports, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. You see the same thing in the FA Cup for instance, anyone CAN win if they beat everyone and we do see great upsets and runs but it’s still about the best team winning.

        1. @alex-glen do they make the best teams in the FA cup play with only a quarter of their best players as a rule to level the playing field? Some levelling of the playing field is fine in F1 and absolutely needed for the continuation of the sport, being paid to participate and run around at the back of the pack as an advertising hoarding in F1 is not desirable imo.

          1. @slowmo I’d argue a spec series is something akin to the situation in most sports, in that both teams play the same ball. And excellency is determined in a spec series the same way that it is in any other sport—by that combination of talent and ability and execution on any given day.

            IndyCar, of course, is not entirely a spec series—in addition to the competition between engine manufacturers, dampers are entirely open for development by teams themselves. And that is one of the key differentiators between the equipment of Penske/Ganassi/Andretti and the rest and why new entrants tend to struggle. Trevor Carlin admitted that their struggles in their first season were because they focused on understanding the aero kit instead of developing dampers, and they made big gains in their second season by catching up in dampers.

      4. Actually that was always the case if you go back in time (that was the thrill of this formule) but the last 5 years they are too breakdown proof.

    3. May the force be with you Guenther and Gene, good news, I reckon folks in other parts of the world have no idea how much we want to see this AMERICAN team succeed.

    4. I really hope that come 2022 Mercedes have the fastest car and are about half a second faster than the closest team. Just cos it will be hilarious to see what ross brawn and the fia ban to slow them down.

      1. I’d pay to watch that! Oh… wait… I already do.

        1. hahaha , good one

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