The Haas Formula 1 team is heading into the season-opening Australian Grand Prix with cautious optimism, according to boss Günther Steiner. 

Haas enjoyed a strong pre-season testing programme at Barcelona, suffering no major reliability issues. The team also showed promising glimpses of its potential raw pace, as Kevin Magnussen posted the fifth fastest overall time around the Circuit de Catalunya on Pirelli’s Supersoft tyre. 

The American squad’s impressive pre-season pace even drew attention from reigning F1 world champions Mercedes, with the German manufacturer tipping Haas to surprise in 2018. 

“I would say we’ll know the potential of the car after qualifying in Australia. After the test, we can say we’re in the midfield, and hopefully in the top half of the midfield - I think we are cautiously optimistic,” Steiner said. 

“Every season, or at least just before the start, is the most challenging, as you don’t know what you’re going to be in for. You don’t know how strong the opposition is. It’s always a challenge, but there’s not one more than the other. It’s always a big challenge every year.

“I would say the guys did a very good job on aero and design to get a car that is better balanced than the 2017 car. Then again, we’ll only see in Australia how it stacks up against the other cars.”

Steiner believes a stable set of regulations and retaining the same driver line-up has placed Haas in a better position heading into the new campaign. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s been easier, you don’t want to make the job easier. You want to get as much as you can out of what you’ve got. In the first years, it was just getting it all done.

“It’s complex, but once we got our processes better, we just wanted to do more, and that meant better work, which got us a faster car and allowed us to perform.”  

VF-18 'the best Haas yet'

Romain Grosjean, who is set to enter his third straight season with the team, is confident Haas’ 2018 challenger is its strongest F1 car yet. 

“The VF-18 has a very good baseline,” the Frenchman explained. “The feeling I get in the car is very good, which is the main thing. It’s a good-looking car. 

“We know where we can update it and try to get more performance from it. We’re going to work on that. I think it’s the best car we’ve had so far for Haas F1 Team.”

Magnussen concurred with his teammate’s evaluation of Haas’ latest F1 contender. 

“I think we made progress with the car. Hopefully, when we get to Australia, we have a package that we know and are happy with.

"It’s been pretty consistent. We’ve only been to one track with it, but we’re going to learn a lot more about it during the season.”


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