New team Haas is already attaining its aims of fighting in the hotly-contested midfield after the first round in Australian, according to team principal Gunther Steiner.
Romain Grosjean produced arguably the drive of the race on Haas' F1 debut at Albert Park by storming to sixth place thanks to a smart strategy switch to medium tyres during the red flag stoppage while fending off Force India, Toro Rosso and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Steiner says he was impressed by VF-16 race pace, particularly in the middle stages of the race when Grosjean was being hounded by Nico Hulkenberg, and has given huge credit to his team for generating the result targeted from the outset.
“There will be some races where we are behind and some races where maybe we are even in front of them [midfield],” Steiner said. “But I think we are in that pack. I haven't yet done an analysis of the times but while going along we could match their times, sometimes we are faster but it was all within tenths up and down.
“I think the Williams is faster to be honest, so I'm not getting carried away yet. I think the Toro Rosso underperformed, they are faster, they did it themselves which we are thankful for.”
Steiner also says a points-scoring debut has given Haas a massive boost in confidence and motivation after enduring a tricky pre-season. The first American F1 team in 30 years completed the least number of laps during winter testing as it battled against technical issues with its all-new F1 challenger.
“Everybody did a great job. I mean, the last two months I wouldn't like to have been any of these guys. They worked day and night, but continuously, it wasn't like they did it once,” he said.
“We built the car, we went testing, day and night, then we went to the factory to rebuild the cars, then we came here and we had some gremlins and some problems. Then it rained, we didn't do any testing and I think our drivers maybe each did seven timed laps before going in to the race, it's quite amazing. But it happens, so we take it.”