No regrets over Haas development freeze despite point-less season – Steiner

2021 F1 Season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says he “wouldn’t change anything” about their decision not to develop their VF-21 chassis despite being on course to end a season point-less for the first time in its history.

After opting not to develop their 2021 chassis throughout the year and focus on maximising the potential of their car for next season, Haas currently sit at the bottom of the constructors’ standings with two races to go. The team has scored no points and its best finish is Mick Schumacher’s 12th place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

While Steiner admitted he would do “little things differently” if he could redo the season over again, he is convinced that the wider decision to focus on next year was the correct one.

“Hindsight is always a beautiful thing, obviously,” said Steiner. “Now, I would do something because I know better, because I know what happened afterwards, so you would do things better.

“But in general, going back to the real question, I don’t think we did anything wrong. It was a tough season, we knew this was coming. But I wouldn’t change anything particular like a big change or do something completely different. I would do little things different with the benefit of hindsight, but otherwise no.”

Schumacher said he struggled to fully understand the team’s philosophy at the start of the season, but has come to appreciate the reasons why Haas have prioritised next season as the races went by.

“I think at the beginning of the year it was probably difficult for me to really understand the whole concept of ‘we’re not making any developments or steps forward and we have to work with what we have’,” Schumacher said.

“Not knowing what that meant from a Formula 1 side was definitely tough. But over the year and the weekends, I understood more and more and that’s when I really understood the philosophy of this year and where we can really exploit the maximum out of ourselves and that’s when I felt we made the big steps forwards.”

With a year’s worth of car development focussed exclusively on their 2022 challenger and a raft of regulation changes expected to offer opportunities for teams further back to become more competitive, Steiner expects Haas to return to a competitive level similar to when they arrived in the sport five years ago, and took fifth and sixth place finishes in their first two races.

“I think we will come out next year, again, back to where we were in 2016,” Steiner said. “Just going upwards again.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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12 comments on “No regrets over Haas development freeze despite point-less season – Steiner”

  1. Yeah, it makes sense that they just ignored this year more or less. The drivers were new, so at least they were able to learn to know this dog of a car and what setup does (not much for this cars pace it seems).

    And since the car was just so bad already last year and there was never going to be much scope for big steps forward with the package being a carry over from that bad car from last year, better to just completely ignore it and hope (believe?) that pays off next year.

    It’s not as if they need results to finance the team, since through Mazepin sr. they got a nice deal to splash the russian flag all over the car to help stick up a finger towards the punishment for their doping in sports.

    1. @bascb Fully agree but the real question might be in the operation side of things. Do they lose competitiveness by doing so, the team and drivers might not push to extract the absolute max and might translate to a bit of nonchalance into next year. Maybe not quite as race sharp as the other team.

      As regard to the decision, I don’t think Haas had much choice. Basically the first car they design completely themselves, a tough ask for a small team relying so much on provided parts. New regulations offer big opportunities for teams to move up (or down) the pecking order.
      Better to finish last one year, to be in the midfield the following 3-4 than finish in the midfield one year to languish at the back for several years…

      1. Solid addition to my comment there I would say @jeanrien. Thanks.

  2. Returning to the 2016 level might be a tough task, given midfield tightness

  3. Teams like Hass are why Bernie didn’t like handing such hangers-on money from the TV pool.

    1. Hope you don’t have to eat your words when they double their 2021 points in 2022.

      1. Barring something exceptional, double their 2021 points would still be zero.

    2. Teams like Haas are the reason F1 still exists @proesterchen.
      Let’s be honest, manufacturers aren’t exactly beating down F1’s door any more, are they…

      The smaller teams were always more appealing to me than the big ones. Passion for motorsport was driving them more than financial gain.
      My how things have changed…

  4. let’s go back to 2008, McLaren & Ferrari spent all season developing their car at the expense of their 2009 car fighting for the championship while Honda gave up and put all their effort into the 2009 car. Not saying Haas is going to pull off what Brawn did because that’s a once in a lifetime thing, but still a smart move.

    1. The big difference is that honda had a massive budget, Haas does not.

      Then again because of the financial regulations, that means the other teams don’t have a big money advantage like other years.

  5. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    1st December 2021, 17:34

    In for the great Schumacher vs Mazepin fight for the title!

  6. Haas were nothing but lucky to do as good as they did. McLaren, Renault and Sauber were all in the dumps. And there was Marussia to make them look good too.

    Now that the field is more competitive I’d be amazed to see Haas lift themselves out of the wooden spoon position. Williams with its new Captain at the helm is on an upwards trajectory, Sauber and Torro Rosso have increased funding too.

    I just can’t imagine HAAS’ completely outsourced bargain basement model doing enough, even with an extra years lead time.

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