27 March 2016
F1 Bahrain GP: We're not being arrogant about success, says Steiner
Sixth place on debut in Australia was very nice for the Haas F1 Team, but there is no expectation of a repeat as the team focuses on the future.
Haas F1 team principal Gunther Steiner insists that the American squad will be keeping its feet firmly on the ground despite taking a sensational sixth place on debut in the Australian Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean benefited from an early red flag - ironically caused by team-mate Esteban Gutierrez's involvement in Fernando Alonso's high-speed accident - to fit the medium compound Pirelli tyres and run to the end of the race, coming home ahead of supposedly superior rivals who had made multiple stops during the race.
The achievement, however it was achieved, was naturally big news, capturing attention in both F1 circles and the harder-to-impress United States, and capped a tough introduction to the top flight for NASCAR stalwart Haas.
“I think it resonated in a very positive way in all of racing in America," Steiner reflected, "Even those who don't follow F1 considered it a big achievement for a new team to finish in sixth place and to be from America, which hasn't had a presence in F1 in 30 years.
“We had our ups and downs, starting out with not being able to get enough testing in on Friday during practice. We tried to make up for it on Saturday morning during third practice, but we had an incident with a car colliding with Romain as he was exiting the garage. It started off not too pretty, and then qualifying was not what we wished for, but the team bounced back and we got ready for Sunday. We showed a good race speed and we are ready to go racing.
"In the end, it was all positive. It was hard to get to the positive but, with a lot of work with a lot of hard-working people, we got there. Now the biggest task is to replicate this, which won't be easy, but for sure we will be trying again.”
The result also vindicated the team's adopted methodology, specifically in regard to partnering with Ferrari and Dallara to bring itself to the grid in the most timely and financially viable way possible. While the project has attracted comment, both positive and negative, Steiner has no reason to question the way it has been run.
“I think we showed that you can start a new team and end up in the midfield," he said, "We were not last in Australia, which was one of our goals, and I don't think we will be last this year. How far we've come is a sign that our plan is working.”
Despite that, and in spite of the result in Melbourne, the team will not go into every race expecting to finish in the points, with Steiner quick to point out that there will be lows for every high.
“We are not being arrogant about our early success and we will have our races where we will underperform," he acknowledged, "Our sixth-place finish in Australia keeps the team going, working very hard and trying to do the best possible job we can. If we continue to do what we did in Melbourne, good results will come. I think our plan is working, but we won't finish sixth every weekend, so we need to be careful with our expectations.”
One thing that the team can expect in round two is the need to make a pit-stop under race conditions. Gutierrez's accident came short of the first stop window in Australia, while Grosjean took the opportunity to make his only tyre change during the 20-minute stoppage, leaving the team short of practice.
“We didn't complain that we didn't have to do a pit-stop in Australia, but we will have to do it in Bahrain, for sure," Steiner concluded, "We will do a lot of things during practice in Bahrain to ensure that we are ready. The focus will be on completing pit-stops this weekend so the team goes into the race confident that they have trained properly.”
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