Romain Grosjean, Haas, Monza, 2020

Ditching Ferrari would be “unethical” despite performance slump – Steiner

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the team is not in talks with other power unit manufacturers such as Renault to replace its current deal with Ferrari.

Ferrari’s setback with its power unit development this year has hit its customer teams. Haas lies ninth in the championship with one point from nine races.

The team’s deal to use Ferrari power units and other components runs until the end of next season, Steiner confirmed. “Our Ferrari contract is still active so we don’t have to renew this year,” he said.

“There doesn’t need to be a new contract to be signed right now because our contract goes down to the end of next year. So we have got plenty of time to go from there onwards.”

While Honda already supplies both Red Bull teams, and Mercedes is expanding its supply operation to include McLaren, a potential alternative for Haas exists in the shape of Renault.

The French manufacturer will have no customers next year and its power units are believed to be more competitive than Ferrari’s. But when asked by RaceFans, Steiner made it clear the team is not considering a switch to Renault power units.

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Steiner said he and team owner Gene Haas intend to stay loyal to Ferrari, whose hardware their team has used since it arrived in Formula 1 four years ago.

“First of all, I am a believer in the reality as well a little bit,” he said. “Gene as well.

“They were instrumental to get us here and they did a good job in doing that. And now they are a little bit in a difficulty, as you obviously know. I think it will be hopefully a short-term difficulty and they will get out of it but Ferrari always came back.

“So to jump at the first opportunity when you get a hurdle in your way I think is not very ethical because without them we wouldn’t be here.”

Switching power unit suppliers would also present logistical problems for the team, which has bases in Britain, Italy and the USA, said Steiner.

“The other opportunities are very difficult for us because we’ve got part of our infrastructure in Italy so we would need to move everything to England and that would not come for free. So in the moment for us it’s the best solution to work hard with Ferrari on the future and not get distracted.

“But by no means, if a manufacturer wants to come up and offer us a free [power unit], we are welcome to listen.”

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Author information

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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  • 34 comments on “Ditching Ferrari would be “unethical” despite performance slump – Steiner”

    1. They can’t ditch Ferrari because they buy so many other parts from them; they’d have to re-design half their car if they did.

      Pull the other one, Guenther

      1. +1

        Still a better bet to hedge your clone on a Ferrari than a Renault despite this season.

      2. THat should be “they have to DESIGN half their car if they did” @gardenfella72 :-)

        1. @bascb I think 2022 is going to be a struggle for them, like 2017 was, because they won’t have anyone to “take inspiration” from.

          1. It will certainly put them up against quite few challendges yeah. I guess they will have to start building their own cars if they don’t want to e behind even Williams for another 2 years. @gardenfella72

    2. This is good thinking from Guenther. Breaking contracts mid-term just because the product is a little less good than anticipated is unethical.

      1. “Dear Ferrari, look how good we are and loyal and how helpful with your young drivers. Can you see your way to pushing some of your oodles of spare cash our way. Cash or kind, no bovver, guv.”

      2. It depends on the contract really. If the contract includes performance clauses, and I suspect that it probably would given how competitive all of F1 is, and Ferrari fail to meet those performance goals then breaking the contract would not be unethical. If there are performance clauses in the contract I find it hard to believe that Ferrari are meeting them this season. Their PU package is the worst on the grid and a downgrade from last year. Guenther clearly outlined that there are financial and logistical impacts to severing the Ferrari contract and I think that is the real reason they won’t break the contract. F1 is all about balancing performance with financial realities. The financial reality of Haas having to pay for an engine and having it’s car design shop based in Italy mean they have to stick with Ferrari. If they got a free PU package or based their car design shop in the UK they would be actively seeking out negotiations with different PU manufacturers.

      3. @alianora-la-canta isn’t Haas’s current contract the same contract that the team signed back in 2016 for their engines? If so, then ending it at the end of the 2020 season, rather than 2021, I wouldn’t really say that it was “unethical” in any particular sense given that the contract has already lasted for that length of time – particularly if it was a move agreed by mutual agreement.

        Furthermore, as Leroy notes, if there were performance related clauses in the contract, and Ferrari was then failing to meet those performance requirements in their contract, then there would be an argument that Ferrari was the one in breach of the terms of the contract.

      4. @alianora-la-canta unethical like supplying your customers with an illegal engine?

        1. @gardenfella72 Ferrari’s engine was never illegal, otherwise it would have been handled openly. It was never in the FIA’s interest to secure a secret deal unless the engine was legal.

          Supplying a legal engine to customers is ethical, even if the governing body has problems understanding why it is legal under the version of the regulations currently in effect.

          1. @alianora-la-canta

            It was never in the FIA’s interest to secure a secret deal unless the engine was legal.

            That’s a very naive statement. It was in the FIA’s interest to secure a secret deal precisely because the engine was illegal.

            If the engine wasn’t illegal, there would be no need for secrecy, would there? If the engine was legal, there would be no need for a deal, would there?

            If last year’s engine was legal, why doesn’t this year’s have the same or better performance?

            1. @gardenfella72 Wrong. Had the engine been illegal, the FIA could have earned €15000 from Ferrari appealling it, as well as got total clarity on what was legal (making other teams less likely to cause the FIA trouble by accident), gained the trust of competitors and solidifying its ruleset (making future challenges weaker and strengthening the FIA’s reputation for justice – something very useful given the FIA has ambitions to improve road safety and also given that in 2021, it is switching to subjective rulemaking).

              All those benefits were lost when the FIA chose to cheat by forcing an agreement on something it accidentally admitted in its own press release was legal. Other teams are edging into the alleged space despite the attempted rule patches, meaning there is less trust of the FIA, no clarity on what is legal, no income from appeals, a stronger reputation for cheating, less power on the road car campaign and zero faith in the FIA’s ability to manage a subjective rulebook in a way that permits sporting competition (only a recession, and the ability to walk out of F1 with 7 months’ notice, appears to have saved F1).

              If the engine was illegal, there’d be no need for secrecy, since said engine couldn’t be used anyway. Only legal engines need to have their secrets retained.

              Preventing the use of a component will reduce its performance whether it is legal or illegal. Especially on such short notice. I’m surprised you missed that. At this point, it is a belief in Ferrari’s 2019 engine being illegal that comes across as naive at best.

            2. @alianora-la-canta wrong in so many ways and naive in so many more.

              This issue has nothing to do with potential income for the FIA (15,000 euros is peanuts!) or road safety. You’re just clutching at straws there.

              The engine was illegal and the whole ‘secret deal’ is just a massive cover-up from the FIA, well known for being Ferrari International Assistance. You’re right. The FIA did cheat. They cheated the other nine teams on the grid.

              Do you honestly think Ferrari wouldn’t veto the addition of a second fuel sensor, knowing what it would do to their performance, unless they’d been caught with their trousers down?

            3. @gardenfella72 You have yet to come up with a single benefit to the FIA for agreeing to the deal. The FIA had the power to prevent this, and every incentive to do so. The FIA even accidentally admitted the Ferrari engine was legal in the press release about the situation. Please pay attention.

              Ferrari has wielded the veto on many matters, however they also know when not to wield it. This is because all political tools have times when using them backfires upon the user. Unlike you, the FIA believes in not doing things that would cause it lots of damage for no benefit. I identified 8 different effects that have harmed the FIA from taking its course of action, all of which could have been easily avoided by taking Ferrari to court – but only had said engine been illegal. Sending Ferrari to court with a legal engine would have not resulted in any benefit to the FIA. Logically, that means the FIA neglecting its duties indicates Ferrari had a legal engine.

              Wielding the veto on a device that has no obvious harm to the sport from their perspective is not an occasion that helps Ferrari, but harms it. There is an art to veto-wielding, it cannot simply be used as a hammer.

              You have offered no evidence to believe your theory, @gardenfella72 . Citing a nickname is not evidence. Making a false rhethorical question is not evidence. As such, the number of ways I am wrong according to what you have written is zero… …and your assumption that vetoes can be used indiscriminately without negative consequence proves your naivete regarding how F1’s psuedopolitical scene works.

              (For the record, I consider the FIA to have cheated everyone except themselves. Including every single team).

            4. @alianora-la-canta

              I know exactly how Ferrari cheated the fuel sensor. I personally know the guy who wrote the report for the FIA. I know exactly what is in the report.

              I can’t tell you without breaching rules which I and my colleagues have to operate under.

              Ferrari cheated. The FIA covered it up. I know this as a fact.

              All you have is your opinion, which is wrong.

            5. @gardenfella72 If you actually knew any of that, you would not have boasted about such things on a public forum like this. Which is another strike against your claim.

            6. (The most likely reasons for the lack of knowledge being that there is no such “cheat” of which to be aware, and that you are not the sort of person who would be told if any team was embroiled in such a situation).

            7. @alianora-la-canta there’s no identifying data on my profile.

            8. @gardenfella72 There are, however, multiple giveaway tells in the responses you have put into this thread.

            9. @alianora-la-canta wrong again ;)

              This isn’t my first rodeo and I know how to leave enough disinformation to cover my tracks. X

            10. @gardenfella72 So you deliberately left tells that indicate you don’t know what you are talking about? Weird strategy.

            11. @alianora-la-canta logic not your strong point, I see.

            12. @gardenfella72 If you were who you claimed to be, you would not need to resort to lying. If you have not worked out yet that I got to my position precisely because of good logic, then you need to end your part in the discussion. You are skating on the edge of the site rules and are at considerable risk of falling off if you continue as you are.

            13. @alianora-la-canta I’m sorry but I can’t see how you have achieved anything with your faulty logic. I’ll take my knowledge over your opinion any day.

            14. @gardenfella What I have achieved is to demonstrate that you have lied, that you do not care that you have lied and that you refuse to acknowledge when you have blatantly lost an argument. I will take my logic-based knowledge over your false statements any day.

              In order to prevent you accidentally getting yourself blocked, I will end the correspondence with you on this matter here.

    3. “But by no means, if a manufacturer wants to come up and offer us a free [power unit], we are welcome to listen.”

      So it’d be “financially unethical”, you mean?

    4. It’s a pity they can’t be more in the States, and American. I read they only run a bit of CFD in North Carolina, otherwise it’s all in the UK and Italy. They still can’t find an American driver either, so everyone who does interviews is European.

      1. @zann Yes, and that’s because UK is more ideal location-wise from the global picture than the US, so the factory in Banbury is where the cars stay and get serviced making essentially the team’s main factory, at least, for the race team travelling.

        1. Yes @jerejj it’s just a shame the idea of ‘An American Team’ isn’t really working out, as way of getting the US more involved. Racing Point come over as more American, in fact! Even if Gene attended more and did more interviews it’d help. Or a driver, best of all, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Colton Herta, I saw mentioned, but sounding like a long shot.

    5. I am assuming that for engine deals like this it is stated somewhere in the paperwork that the supplier has to supply a “legal” power unit right? Did the customer teams know about the irregularities before the whole thing blew up last year?

    6. Calm Down Dears!
      Domino will soon have Ferrari restored to the top!!!!
      Oops? They sacked him didn’t they…..
      OK No problem!! Lambo engines would be great in F1!!
      Do a heck of a brilliant job in power boat racing!!

    7. Lol

      Running with Ferrari’s illegal engine was not “unethical” last year, eh Guenther?
      It cracks me up when team bosses give stupid excuses to hide their true intentions. IMO they don’t want their relationship with Ferrari to sour up in any way. They will be even slower than Williams was last year if they did not have the Ferrari support.

    8. Some have challenged Ferrari over their ethic diversity

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