Guenther Steiner has questioned whether Haas’ F1 model of buying as many components as possible for racing is the right path forward.
With Steiner now the ex-team boss of Haas, the Italian was much more vocal in pointing out where he feels his former team are falling short relative to their competition in Formula 1.
Haas finished last in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, the second time in three years they have done so, with performance continuing to elude the American team. Steiner believes his former team’s approach no longer brings the rewards it perhaps once did.
Haas’ racing model pinpointed as an issue by Guenther Steiner
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
Haas are unique on the F1 grid in that they are not a chassis constructor in their own right. Since entering the sport in 2016, Haas have developed chassis in collaboration with Italian manufacturer Dallara and worked with Ferrari to purchase transferable components such as rear suspensions, crash structures and gearboxes – as well as buying the Scuderia’s power supply.
It’s a model that yielded instant reward in the team’s early years, with points finishes aplenty and rising as high as fifth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2018.
But the fact none of the other teams employ that model has meant increased scrutiny when things stopped working quite as well and, following disagreement with team owner Gene Haas on the direction of the team, Steiner and the American squad have parted ways.
Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham on Saturday, Steiner opened up on the nature of his departure from the team and spoke about how he feels about Haas’ approach to racing.
“I don’t know if it changes or not,” he told presenter David Croft, when asked if Haas have made any plans to change their approach in light of their ongoing lack of competitiveness.
“I think the model we had in Formula 1, 10 years ago, when we started – Formula 1 has changed a lot. Formula 1 changed a lot after the COVID period – how much it grew, how much bigger it got, how much different it got with the budget cap and how to use the budget cap to get ideas and how to do things.”
Guenther Steiner identifies ‘what’s needed to stay competitive’
With F1 introducing a mandatory budget cap on performance and development-related spending throughout a season, a crucial aspect in controlling costs, Steiner said seeing how other teams have invested in their infrastructures and factory equipment has been a big differentiator versus where Haas is.
“If you look at all the other teams, they are all gearing up,” he said.
“They are not gearing up now – they started to gear up two, three years ago, last year. So everybody is getting stronger, investing a lot in the future, because Formula 1 is on a very good path where it’s going at the moment.
“That is what is needed to do to stay competitive.
“So I don’t know Gene Haas’ plans for the future. He didn’t share them with me. He doesn’t have to, by the way – I want to make that clear as well, you know, I’m actually not really interested in it anymore [laughs]!
“But, on the other side, I see where other people are going and the model we started with in the beginning, I think it was a very good model. But, maybe, it’s not time-relevant anymore. But who am I to say that?”
Steiner said he believes other teams identified the need to spend outside of the budget cap areas in order to make progress.
“You need to invest outside of the cost cap to get the best out of the operational cost cap,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s very complex, but you need to think about really how to operate with the cost cap money – how can you get the most out of it to make the car go quicker?
“That is normally because you invest in something to do that, and that needs to be done. I think a lot of people picked up on that one year ago and started to invest in how to be efficient by spending money on capital investment, and then getting operational to be more efficient.”