Guenther Steiner points finger at Ferrari for sudden Haas pre-pandemic slump

Henry Valantine
Former Haas team boss Guenther Steiner studies the conditions at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Former Haas team boss Guenther Steiner studies the conditions ahead of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix sprint race.

Guenther Steiner has detailed the drop in performance of the Ferrari power unit as one of the reasons behind Haas not achieving as much in his tenure as he had hoped.

Ferrari had arguably the most powerful engine on the grid in 2018 and 2019, though rivals questioned the potential legality of it at the time.

Steiner left his role as Haas team principal last week after almost a decade in the role, with Ayao Komatsu appointed in his place after the team opted to not renew his contract.

Guenther Steiner harks back to Ferrari power unit drama to explain Haas performance

There were suspicions that the Scuderia had managed to circumvent fuel flow sensor restrictions to be able to extract more power from their engines, and eventually came to a private settlement with the FIA which did not clarify whether or not their power unit was legal.

There was plenty of controversy surrounding the settlement with Ferrari and the FIA, not least because the details were never made public and the question of legality was not answered.

“The FIA announces that, after thorough technical investigations, it has concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 power unit and reached a settlement with the team,” the FIA’s statement at the time said.

“The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.

“The FIA and Scuderia Ferrari have agreed to a number of technical commitments that will improve the monitoring of all Formula 1 power units for forthcoming championship seasons as well as assist the FIA in other regulatory duties in Formula 1 and in its research activities on carbon emissions and sustainable fuels.”

What did change afterwards, however, was Ferrari’s power unit competitiveness – in that it noticeably worsened the following season, according to Steiner.

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Had Haas had a Ferrari engine from a “normal” season in 2019, with the team coming off their best ever Constructors’ Championship finish the season before, finishing fifth, he wonders if a better result was available to them.

“I think we have to go back,” Steiner said to Autosport when asked why dreams of podium finishes did not come to fruition in his time at the top of Haas.

“When we started, finishing eighth in the first and second season, for a new team [that] never happened before. Finishing fifth in the third season, didn’t happen many times before.

“They fell back in 2019. There was a reason there as well that has to be explained – that was the Ferrari engine saga year. And people should look into that one.

“That was not only on Haas. Was it the best car Haas ever had? No. But was it [worth] ninth place? No. Alfa Romeo [Ferrari’s other engine customer] that year finished eighth.

“Because if you lead off with 2018 when the team finished fifth, it was pretty good. 2018-2019, how it could’ve been with a normal engine, that wouldn’t have been ninth place [in 2019].”

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