Much has been made about Ferrari's involvement in the Haas F1 project and whether the concept of assistance is right or wrong in the top flight, but the US-based team admits that its point-scoring debut could not have happened without the input of one of F1's great outfits.
Haas surprised the pack - and, to some extent, itself - by coming home sixth in last weekend's Australian Grand Prix, having opted to run veteran Romain Grosjean on a one-stop strategy once the red flag came out for an accident involving team-mate Esteban Gutierrez. With rivals having already made tyre changes prior to the stoppage, the newcomers saw an opportunity to run a contra strategy, and the move paid off as Grosjean went long on a set of the medium compound Pirellis to reach the chequered flag between Williams' Felipe Massa and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.
"We took [Grosjean] on for this reason," team principal Gunther Steiner enthused after Haas became the first F1 newcomer to score on debut in 14 years, "He's fast, but he's experienced [and] he can manage the tyres - he's known for that. He did all what we took him on for, he delivered at the perfect level.”
Regardless of Grosjean's contribution, however, Steiner also admitted that scoring on debut was unlikely to happen without the collaboration with Ferrari that brought Haas to the F1 table in the first place. Working within the scope of the regulations determining what constitutes and F1 'constructor', the US new boys run Dallara chassis with engines, brakes, steering, suspension and fuel cell components supplied from Maranello and, while he hinted that the Melbourne result had an element of good fortune about it, Steiner also knows that the Scuderia's involvement elevates Haas above recent contemporaries such as Caterham, HRT and even Manor, which scored its only points to date in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, four years after joining the fray.
"Absolutely," he acknowledged, "Without the help from Ferrari, this would not have happened, it cannot happen. We said we are not going to do it like the other ones because it's more of the same - we would be five years without points and then anybody would run out of enthusiasm or out of money.
"We said we need to do it differently and we tried this and it seems to be working. I'm cautious to say 'it's working' because we still have to repeat it. This is one race. But the pace of the car is there, it's in the midfield, so that is a positive.”