Guenther Steiner receives Haas blowback over accusation of misleading people

Henry Valantine
Guenther Steiner, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Guenther Steiner believes his former team, Haas, shouldn't have downplayed expectations coming into 2024.

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has said the team did not mislead people about their pace expectations, after Guenther Steiner claimed the team were “right on where they ended up to be.”

Steiner claimed the team were on course for a better season after seeing their 2024 car’s data in the wind tunnel prior to his departure on the eve of the new campaign, while Komatsu aimed to play down expectations after taking on the role.

Ayao Komatsu clears up Guenther Steiner claims on Haas’ 2024 car

Steiner, who has turned to TV punditry work alongside an ambassadorial role for the Miami Grand Prix since his departure from the paddock, said recently that it was “wrong” of the team for them to downplay expectations heading into the new year.

Both Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are off the mark for the season, with Haas an early seventh in the Constructors’ Championship after finishing bottom last year.

While Steiner is pleased to see his former team performing well, he does not believe it was correct to use an “excuse” of appearing slow to begin with.

“They did a good job and I always told Gene Haas [team owner] that I actually had it right on where they ended up to be, because I knew the numbers from the wind tunnel,” Steiner said.

“I think, in the beginning, they played it down to have an excuse to start off with and then it was better than they expected.

“That is, for me, wrong to do. And I think everybody was convinced it was this path, I was convinced that’s what it was.

“But, in my opinion, it’s not about this year, it’s about the mid-term.

“You can go from year to year and every year you can say: ‘Oh, we are bad’ and then you do better than you are.”

Komatsu has now responded to those claims, explaining that the numbers he read were not misrepresenting the reality of what he faced, and he could not factor in the drop-off in pace of rivals such as Alpine.

“If you look at the data from the wind tunnel, it’s just a number,” Komatsu explained, as quoted by Motorsport-Magazin.

“I knew the figure and knew how much we had improved. Nevertheless, I had to assume that all the other teams had improved by at least the same amount or more.

“We started development late, we had to stop for two months because of the Austin upgrades and we are also the smallest team. It’s not like we have advanced methods, and I’m sure everyone else is just as smart as us on average.

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“It wasn’t about spreading nonsense or misleading people. I only said what my expectations were at the time.

“I saw the wind tunnel number and believe me, it wasn’t a big number. So I definitely didn’t think it would be enough for P7.

“You can’t predict what happened with Alpine either. You can’t rely on someone messing up. You have to assume that they will do a good job.

“I also didn’t want my people in Bahrain to see that we were last and then get depressed.

“I wanted to make sure that my people knew that it wasn’t their fault if we were P10 in Bahrain.

“They just didn’t have enough time. So that was an internal message to avoid disappointment, not deception.

“When I saw our long run pace at the pre-season test, I thought that we might be able to fight with two or three teams, but I only realised that when we got to the track.

“The downforce that we generate with our car is very different to what the wind tunnel showed. That’s a problem in itself, but it’s also partly a positive surprise. Could I have predicted this from the wind tunnel data? Absolutely not.”

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