Guenther Steiner: Haas F1 debut a ‘big achievement’ for many reasons

Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner (middle) talks with Romain Grosjean (left) and team owner Gene Haas (right) after Grosjean's impressive sixth-place finish in the Australian Grand Prix.

Sam Bloxham

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says there has been a very positive reaction to Romain Grosjean’s sixth-place finish in the team’s debut at the Australian Grand Prix.

Helped by a red flag that propelled the Frenchman up the leaderboard, Haas matched the achievement of Toyota in its debut during the same event in 2002.

"I think it resonated in a very positive way in all of racing in America," said Steiner. "Even those who don’t follow Formula One 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 Formula One in 30 years.

"We had our ups and downs. It started 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 downside for the team was Esteban Gutierrez’s collision with Fernando Alonso, which has forced Haas to use the spare chassis for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Some of the parts, for example the chassis, were sent back to Europe to be checked and fixed because we can’t do it on-site in Bahrain," Steiner added. "We have enough spare parts to build up another chassis, so we will use that. Then the chassis that is repaired will be sent to Bahrain via air to serve as our spare. The guys will have to work day and night to get to Bahrain, but it’s all doable. Our spare quantity is down, but we have enough to get going again, so we will just keep on working."

The team has yet to make a hot pit stop in a race, having changed Grosjean’s tires under the red flag in Australia.

"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 said. "We will do a lot of things during practice in Bahrain to ensure that we are ready. We got away with not doing pit stops in Australia, but we won’t be able to in Bahrain. The focus will be on completing pit stops this weekend so the team goes into the race confident that they have trained properly."

Regarding expectations for the future, Steiner said: "We are not being arrogant about our early success and we will have our races where we will under perform. 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."

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